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Dance Team: Z-M places 10th, Randolph 11th at state Jazz

Kalli Olson and the Zumbrota-Mazeppa Dance Team spin during their routine, “Castle,” during their Jazz performance at state Friday. (Republican Eagle photo by Joe Brown)1 / 2
Randolph’s Grace Dibble and the Rockettes perform their routine “The Ringleader” during the Class 1A Jazz Division state high school dance team championship Friday at the Target Center. (Republican Eagle photo by Joe Brown)2 / 2

MINNEAPOLIS – Zumbrota-Mazeppa and Randolph both took a step up on Friday. But it was not enough for the Z-M Dance Team and the Rockettes to advance to finals in the Class 1A Jazz state dance team championship Friday at the Target Center.

With the eight-through-11 spots separated by just six points, Randolph finished in 11th place with a score of 46.5 while Z-M was 10th at 44.5. The top six teams – Duluth-Marshall, Frazee, St. Charles, Yellow Medicine East, Lac qui Parle Valley/Dawson-Boyd and Aitkin – qualified for the finals. Aitkin won its first state Jazz state title since 2012 while Frazee finished second and YME third.

But, it was a step in the right direction for both area teams as the Z-M Dance Team went up from an 11th-place finish in 2016, and the Rockettes moved up from 12th place a year ago.

“The last five teams were within 10-to-15 points of each other. We got some good places,” said Randolph head coach Melissa Augustine. “Some sevenths, some eighths and ninths, which is great to see.”

Performing to “Castle,” Z-M changed things up from years past, going with a more serious routine under first-year head coach Khendra Johnson.

“Our choreography is really strong and powerful, and that shows our strengths,” Johnson said. “They’ve done a lot of happy, fun, go-lucky stuff in the past, and I thought it was cool to showcase some of the power they had this year. … They always rise to the challenge and that’s really awesome. That’s what we did today. I’m really proud of them.”

And in her second year with the squad, Johnson already has some plans for next winter’s Jazz squad.

“A thing we’ll work on for next year is definitely sharpness,” Johnson said. “They felt really good about their performance (on Friday). They did the best they could.”

Meanwhile, the Rockettes scored high on routine effectiveness and technique of leaps and jumps while performing a circus routine that was more upbeat than most of the other Jazz competitors.

“We always seem to stick out in the Jazz category. We like to do upbeat, sassier, strong theme versus the lyrical, slower music,” Augustine said. “We feel more comfortable and confident doing our style.”

Augustine added, “I know we had a couple missed landings here and there and I know the girls were a little disappointed in themselves. But I just thought, ‘We’re here. We qualified, we can keep our heads up high.”

And, both the Z-M Dance Team and Rockettes won’t have long to dwell as both will return to the Target Center court Saturday for High Kick. Among area teams, Cannon Falls will go first at 11:51 a.m., followed by Randolph (12:05 p.m.), Lake City (12:26 p.m.) and Z-M (12:40 p.m.).

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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