by Samantha Lefebvre
Two area high school dance teams have advanced to the state tournament after achieving top three finishes at section meets.
For the 12th year in a row, the Blaine Dance Team will be heading down to the Target Center Feb. 17-18. Competing against it will be the Spring Lake Park Dance Team, who earned two first-place finishes at the Section 3AAA competition.
The Bengalettes placed in the top three in both the high kick and jazz compeitions at the Section 4AAA meet Feb. 4 at Elk River High School. They took second in the jazz division and third in the high kick division. St. Cloud Tech and Brainerd dance teams were among the other top teams in the section that will be advancing to state.
“We did pretty well against a lot of the top teams that were there,” Bengalettes coach Trina Develice said. “The girls are very dedicated, very hardworking and very willing to learn.”
After graduating 15 seniors last year, the Bengalettes added 16 rookies to the roster including 14 freshmen. What looked to be a rebuilding year at the beginning of the season turned out to produce a state qualifying team instead.
“A lot of them are very new,” said Develice, who has been the Bengalettes coach for the past 11 years. “We just had to help them build their confidence and help them dance at the varsity level, so that was kind of challenging but yet they stepped it up. Some people where kind of questioning, ‘Are they going to go to state this year?’”
On the jazz team alone the Bengalettes have only three returning varisty jazz girls out of the 13 total that are now on the team.
“I think we have been really successful compared to what people thought we were going to be,” senior captian Zoey Johnson said. “We kind of proved everyone wrong.”
Anoka also competed in the Section 4AAA meet and was close to advancing to state in the high kick competition, but fell a tad short with a fourth-place finish, just one rank point behind Blaine, 14.5-15.5. In the section jazz divison, Andover came in fifth place and Anoka in seventh.
In Section 3AAA, Spring Lake Park’s dance team came away with first-place finishes in both the high kick and jazz competitions Feb. 11 at Bloomington Kennedy High School. This is the third year in a row that the Pantherettes have won both titles in the section.
“The team is very happy and proud of its accomplishments this year,” Spring Lake Park coach Jennifer Blaido said. “It is the coaching staff’s first year with the team and we couldn’t be prouder than we are of the amazing job the Pantherettes did on Saturday.”
The Pantherettes’ first year with the new coaches has had its ups and downs, but at sections they proved that they are still the team on top and focused on their goals of returning to the state tournament. In the both the jazz and high kick competitions, Spring Lake Park beat out Eagan (second in jazz, third in kick) and Centennial (third in jazz, second in kick) to win the section titles.
“Our team is very focused and the dancers give 100 percent effort every day,” Blaido said. “They are constantly looking to make improvements and get better. They truly want to be the best they can be.”
Both the Bengalettes and the Pantherettes are hoping to make it to the final round of state, which includes the top six out the 12 total teams.
“We always hope to make it to finals,” Develice said, “That is always a goal we have going in, which we have done before but we know it is hard to do so we are going there to try and do that.”