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Dance Team: Four area teams take center court at state

A year after having both High Kick and Jazz qualify for state, nerves were a constant for the Randolph dance team this winter.

The High Kick was used to the state spotlight with consecutive state appearances, but the Jazz team was a lesser-known commodity. It helped the Rockettes to not have expectations as they found their way to the state meet for the first time a year ago.

“We were brand new. We just assumed we wouldn’t advance,” said Randolph head coach Melissa Augustine. “There’s a lot of nerves dancing both days (at state) and with the girls dancing multiple times in a short weekend.”

This winter, there was a reputation to uphold, which mounted up the pressure. But the Rockettes were able to withstand the weight of expectations and got both Jazz and High Kick into the Class 1A state tournament for the second straight year. It will be the fourth straight trip to state for the team’s High Kick.

“We’ve been talking about the nerves issue, but we had an awesome performance this past Saturday and we’ll need that exact same thing on Friday and Saturday,” Augustine said. “With the older dancers that have been on the team, that we’ll have for the fourth time on the state floor, we’re hoping the nerves aren’t as strong this year. They seem to be more prepared now in both days.”

At last weekend’s Section 2A meet, Randolph finished in second place in both High Kick and Jazz, with Cannon Falls winning the High Kick and PACT Charter taking the Jazz competition.

Then, there’s the matter of getting the Rockettes into the finals, which has eluded the team up to this point. In 2016, the High Kick team got 11th while the Jazz team finished 12th. But if Monday’s high-energy practice is any indicator, Randolph is eager to break through for the first time.

“We’re buckling down. We want to push it,” Augustine said. “In High Kick, our scores were neck-and-neck with Cannon Falls. We did get ranked first by three out of seven judges, so we have a chance.”

The Randolph Jazz team will take the Target Center floor at approximately 12:26 p.m. Friday. Then on Saturday, they will compete in the High Kick at 12:05 p.m.

Lake City grows up

A year ago, Lake City was stunned to make the state dance championship after placing second in High Kick in Section 1A with a young group of dancers unaccustomed to varsity.

A year later, the Tiger Dance Team are section champions, and are building on the confidence they were able to gain in 2016.

“We doubled our numbers, so that helped us. We had a lot of returning dancers and we’ve just been working hard,” said Lake City head coach Ashley Otteson.

“Making it hard but making it fun helps build the team a lot,” Otteson added. “We’ve had lot of team building exercises. The girls are building such strong relationships, so that helps.”

What has also helped, according to Otteson, was having a theme to their High Kick routine based around “The Wizard of Oz” as opposed to a routine built around a mix of pop music.

Only in her second year at the helm at head coach, Otteson has been impressed with the progress of the Tiger Dance Team after placing 10th in High Kick in 2016. Not just from last year to this year, but from middle school on.

“Some of the dancers I’ve been with in seventh grade are 11th graders now,” Otteson said. “I’ve watched some of these girls grow so much from the first time they’ve set foot in dance and they’re amazing dancers. I was watching them try to do their first toe touch and first splits. It’s amazing watching them grow.”

Lake City is set to compete in the Class 1A High Kick at 12:26 p.m. Saturday.

Cannon Falls, Z-M continue dance dynasties

Mainstays at the state championship meet, Cannon Falls and Zumbrota-Mazeppa will be plenty busy over the weekend.

In their 20th year as a team, the Bomber Dance Team is making their 15th state appearance when the High Kick performs at 11:51 a.m. Saturday. A year ago, Cannon Falls finished fourth overall, behind only Aitken, Frazee and Montevideo.

For the 12th time in school history, the Bomber Dance Team was section champions at last week’s Section 2A meet.

“The girls hit the floor and knew they needed to have a fantastic performance to come out on top and they did just that,” said Cannon Falls head coach Jamie Swenning. “Their kicks were amazing and they had lots of energy.”

Swenning continued, “We’ve, once again, made substantial changes to our dance and it really showed in their performance and in our scores. We are very excited to see this dance and those changes on the Target Center floor against a very tough set of competition on Saturday. This week, we’ll focus on the little details to really clean up the dance and get it state ready, but also to remind the girls to enjoy the ride and to remember how special it is to have earned a chance to represent our community and our school at the state tournament level.”

For Zumbrota-Mazeppa, both the Jazz and High Kick teams will compete this weekend after a second-place showing at the Section 1A meet for Jazz and third place for High Kick.

Under first-year head coach Khendra Johnson, the Cougar Dance Team will compete at state Jazz for the 11th straight year while going for the third straight time in High Kick. At last year’s state meet, Z-M was 11th in Jazz and 12th in High Kick.

The Cougar Dance Team’s Jazz routine is set for 12:19 p.m. Friday, followed by the High Kick routine at 12:40 p.m. Saturday.

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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