The Highland High School varsity dance team made it a clean sweep for the second straight competition after winning with all five of its routines Saturday at the Illinois Drill Team Association (IDTA) Edwardsville Regional Competition
Highland captured first place in all five of the following categories: IHSA, Lyrical, Jazz, Hip Hop and Pom Dance.
Also, all five routines were the top five scoring routines of the contest.
Senior McKenzie Rosen competed in the soloist category and won first place. She also qualified for the IDTA State Finals and therefore will be representing Highland as a soloist at state.
The Highland Middle School dance team took first place in Lyrical while also collecting third place with both of its Jazz and Pom Dance routines.
“The varsity and middle school dance teams faced some extremely tough competition at Edwardsville High School,” said Highland varsity dance team coach Michelle Deets. “I am proud of all of the young ladies for the effort they put forth. We are one of the few dance programs who push their teams to compete with more than two routines, and it requires hard work combined with team work to excel at a competition. I want to also give credit to the varsity dance team captains Kelsey Lane and McKenzie Rosen for their leadership, and the extra time and effort they put into making their team so successful. As coaches, Emily Wellen and I do have high expectations and push our team, but we also rely on our captains to encourage their teammates and work with them to meet the rigorous demands we expect from such a talented group of young women.”
The varsity dance team will now be preparing for the IHSA Sectional, which will be held at Mascoutah High School on Jan. 23.
The HHS varsity dance team, which is coached by Deets and Wellen, is composed of Ally Becker, Kayla Davis, Leslie Drueke, Katie Etter, Paige Foster, Olivia Genteman, Lexy Hagler, Kelsey Lane, Hannah Luitjohan, Raven Miranda, Claire Pabst, Abigail Rogier, McKenzie Rosen, Reagan Thornton and Brooke Wilson.
The HMS dance team, which is coached by Erin Cotto, is comprised of Tegan Beard, Madysen Castile, Paige Crawford, Kate Drueke, Bree Etherton, Alexis Finley, Kylie Jakel, Kylie McFarland, Abbey Mortland, Shelby Stallard, Riley Stewart and Tatum Stock.
The night before the Edwardsville Regional on Friday, Deets was honored by her former and current dancers for her illustrious career before the boys’ varsity basketball game against Jerseyville.
Deets founded the dance team program and is retiring after this season. The list of her accomplishments is extremely impressive and unprecedented in her 24 illustrious years at the helm from 1992 to 2016.
Deets, who is an IDTA Hall of Fame Inductee who has served as the IDTA President, has directed the team to 31 IDTA state championships including 10 consecutive years of winning all of its titles at the IDTA State Finals. She has also guided the program to one IHSA State Championship in 2014 while Highland is the only team in the state to earn a podium finish for a top-three placement in all three years of the IHSA’s existence (third in 2013, first in 2014 and third in 2015.
“I was completely surprised and touched beyond words to be recognized at the basketball game on Friday night,” said Deets, who got emotional during her speech to her dancers and the crowd in attendance at the game. “It meant so much to me to see so many of my former dancers and their parents and catch up with them. I know it must have taken a lot of time to put this together, and the credit goes to the current group of dance team parents that I am so lucky to have. The legacy of the Highland Dance Team was built on the talent, hard work, commitment and dedication of all of these former dancers. It was truly a night that I will never forget.”
Deets has had her dancers go on to compete at all of the following colleges and professional institutions: University of Memphis, University of Louisville, University of Mississippi, University of Missouri-Columbia, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, University of Kansas, University of Kentucky, University of Evansville, Eastern Illinois University, Lindenwood University - St. Charles, Mckendree University, Southeast Missouri State University, Missouri State University, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, AMDA - LA, St. Louis Rams NFL Cheerleaders, Memphis Grizzlies NBA Cheerleaders, Philadelphia 76ers NBA Cheerleaders, New York City/ Radio City Rockettes, Vegas - The Show, Walt Disney World, Universal Studios Entertainment, Holland America Cruise Line, AFL Orlando Predators Prowler Dance Team.