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Dance Team: Bombers battle their way to third

The Cannon Falls Bomber Dance Team performs during the championship portion of the Class 2A High Kick Division meet Saturday at Target Center in Minneapolis. Cannon Falls finished in third place. (Republican Eagle photo by Joe Brown)1 / 3
The members of the Cannon Falls dance team hoist their third-place trophy. (Republican Eagle photo by Joe Brown)2 / 3
The Lake City dance team performs its high kick routine during the Class 1A portion of the state dance team meet Saturday at Target Center in Minneapolis. (Republican Eagle photo by Joe Brown)3 / 3

MINNEAPOLIS – Cannon Falls came onto the Target Center floor ready to do battle.

Moved into Class 2A after winning last year’s 1A High Kick Division title, the Bombers were the smallest school in the class and had to prove they belonged with the bigger schools.

“The competition is tough, but I think it makes us better. It makes us better competitors,” said Cannon Falls co-captain Krystin Anderson.

And in Saturday’s High Kick championship meet, the Bombers made a statement to the rest of Class 2A with an impressive third-place finish.

“When we found out we were going up to 2A … we knew we weren’t going to move up lightly,” said Cannon Falls head coach Madi Salisbury. “We knew we were going to take it seriously, but I don’t think we anticipated the magnitude of what we could accomplish.

“The fact the girls are going home with a medal on their neck, they’re completely overwhelmed.”

In a tight top three, Cannon Falls had a finals score of 11. Totino-Grace won the state title for the first time in 14 years with a score of 7, while Sartell took second place with 9 points.

As great as last year’s state title was in Class 1A, some of the Bombers came off the floor Saturday more proud of their white medals.

“Our goal was to always make it to state. We move to 2A and it’s like, OK, we have to make our first impression. And to medal, that hasn’t been done. No team has ever moved up and medaled (the next year),” said senior Kelsie Beissel, who along with Anderson was named to the All-Tournament team. “It feels better than winning state last year.”

When they took to the floor, Cannon Falls’ routine felt more like a war than a dance-team performance.

“I was like, ‘Leave blood on the floor, it’s a battle,’” Salisbury said with a laugh. “And they were like, ‘Rawr.’ They were definitely into it, which was a great change of pace.”

Abandoning the big smiles and bright colors of most of the competition, the Bombers were backed with music called “Guts and Glory,” with smeared paint and scowls on their faces as they performed their high kick routine.

“We’re really nice girls, I promise,” Anderson said. “We have to go out there and make it intense. We wanted it to be different. Everything else has this happy, peppy routine. We wanted to go out there and … we wanted to make everyone else mad.”

Beissel added, “We noticed that in the past, we’ve always done the regular buns and smiles, and we were like, ‘That’s not us.’ We found out that we have to get gritty and got to get mad to be successful. We found out our own style and it was exciting.”

The mean-mugging quickly turned to tears as Cannon Falls’ routine ended. Many of the dancers kissed the Target Center floor as they headed into the tunnel.

“When they exited, it was very overwhelming to see them so happy and so proud,” Salisbury said. “It was so humbling to see them so proud of themselves.”

The Bombers left their battlefield with medals and a third-place plaque. While not the blue medals that Totino-Grace walked off with, proving they belonged with Class 2A’s best was the kind of statement Cannon Falls wanted to leave.

“We were so united. I’ve never had that in a team before,” Anderson said. “We’re all kind of best friends, so it was hard walking off that floor for the last time. It was just an amazing experience and I’m so happy we even got here, much less placing. It was incredible.”

Lake City misses top 10 cut

In the Class 1A High Kick Division championship, Section 1A champion Lake City was unable to get out of the preliminary round on Saturday.

Competing fourth, the Tigers were kept out of the championship hunt by Montevideo, Lac qui Parle Valley/Dawson-Boyd, Frazee, Aitkin, Yellow Medicine East and Pelican Rapids.

“Everybody danced their hearts out, I thought it went very well. We had a lot of energy in the routine and everyone felt confidence in how they performed,” said Tigers head coach Wendy White. “It’s just some days, some dances are better than others.”

In the end, Aitkin won its second Class 1A High Kick title in three years, holding off YME and Frazee for top honors.

Lake City was left out after the early session, but with another year of experience, the Tigers feel confidence in their chances of a return next winter.

“Being a brand-new coach, starting from ground zero and never coaching before, having a fairly new amount of new girls on the team that have come up, I’d say we did pretty good this year from where we came from,” White said. “We will start working even harder next year because we know our goal in the end. We’ll all do what we can to obtain it.”

Joe Brown

Joe Brown is the sports editor for the Red Wing Republican Eagle. Previously, he worked at the Marshall Independent and the St. Cloud Times. For updates on local sports, follow Joe on Twitter at @RE_JBrown.

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