* Purdue Bands

March 3, 2008

MerrieBeth Cox named Purdue's 27th Golden Girl

MerrieBeth Cox
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MerrieBeth Cox, an incoming Purdue freshman from Roselle, Ill., topped the competition on Saturday (March 1) to become Purdue's 27th Golden Girl and will take over the twirling position in August with the start of the 2008-09 academic year.

"MerrieBeth will bring a dynamic energy to Ross-Ade Stadium and Mackey Arena," said Alisha Kuckartz, Purdue Bands director of the twirlers and dancers. "Fans will love her because of her twirling speed, her advanced level of technical ability, and her ability to incorporate dance and gymnastics into her routines."

Cox, who has been twirling since age 3, was selected as 2007 Miss Illinois Outstanding Teen. She has represented the United States in Peru as a twirler and also has been a volleyball and basketball player and cheerleader

"There were a lot of unique talents in the competition Saturday, representative of the best performers coming out of the various twirling organizations around the United States," Kuckartz said.

Erin Powell
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Judges selected Erin Powell of Canton, Ohio, to twirl in the Girl in Black position. Sara and Chellie Zou, of Elkhart, Ind., will perform as the Silver Twins. During the current academic year, Powell is performing as part of Purdue's Twirling Line and the Zou twins are performing with the Golduster Dance Team.

The announcement was made by Jay S. Gephart, director of the "All-American" Marching Band, late Saturday (March 1) at Elliott Hall of Music following a full day of competition that included field tryouts and personal interviews.

Members of the Purdue Bands' faculty and staff judged the candidates and made the final selections. Judges consider twirling talent, showmanship, poise and communication skills in selecting the top positions. Those selected serve as ambassadors for Purdue University as well as entertainers.

Zou twins
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Prior to Saturday's competition, twirlers from across the United States were invited to submit audition DVDs in the solo twirler competition's preliminary round. From that pool, eight women were selected to come to campus to compete for the positions.

With the move to spring solo twirler auditions several years ago, Purdue aligned itself with other major university band programs that use auditions as a tool to attract top twirling talent from across the nation. All the twirling candidates had to be accepted by Purdue to audition.

Over the years, Purdue's Golden Girl has enjoyed a national reputation as one of the top twirlers in the United States. Former director Al Wright began the tradition in 1954 when quarterback Lenny Dawson was referred to by the press as Purdue's "Golden Boy." Wright put gold sequins on Juanita Carpenter and named her the "Golden Girl." After Dawson graduated his nickname faded, but the Golden Girl has continued as a Purdue tradition.

Source: Kathy Matter, Purdue Bands director of public relations, (765) 496-6785,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

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