The Highland High School dance team sent coach and founder Michelle Deets into retirement from the program in grand style by sweeping all three categories it competed in after winning first place in AA Lyrical, Jazz and Pom Dance categories at the Illinois Drill Team Association (IDTA) State Finals on Saturday at the Prairie Capital Convention Center in Springfield.
Not only did Highland capture first place in all three routines, but the Lady Bulldogs’ performances were so impressive that they notched the top three scores of the entire competition.
In the AA Lyrical category, Highland received the highest scoring routine of the IDTA State Finals with a final score of 292.4 total points out of a possible 300.
In the AA Jazz category, HHS earned the second highest scoring routine of the contest.
Never miss a local story.
And in the AA Pom Dance category, the Lady Bulldogs got the third highest scoring routine of the competition.
New this year to IDTA was an award called Grand Champion. To be considered for this award, teams had to compete with at least two routines at the IDTA State Finals. The team with the highest score of the two routines added together received the title of Grand Champion.
“I am happy to say that the Highland varsity dance team won this award,” Deets said. “There were a total of 147 team performances. The fact that the varsity team scored the highest three scores of the day is amazing.”
HHS senior named Miss IDTA 2016
Senior McKenzie Rosen competed as a soloist for the title of Miss IDTA. There were 43 soloists who competed in the preliminary round, which was held prior to the start of the team portion of the competition on Saturday morning. Following an almost perfect performance, McKenzie advanced to the Top 10 Finalist round. Again, Rosen performed another flawless routine, and received first place and was crowned Miss IDTA 2016.
“What makes this even more special is that McKenzie choreographed the routine herself,” Deets said.
Grand finale to the season
Deets said the IDTA State Finals was a great finale to an amazing season.
“I am so proud of this team,” she said. “They set goals at the beginning of the season, and met all of them. It has truly been a blessing to work with this team and share their accomplishments with them.”
Rosen, a co-captain of the squad, said she is so proud of the hard work and dedication the team has put into this season.
“We have worked countless hours and it is so rewarding to have them pay off,” Rosen said. “It is an honor to have been named both IHSA and IDTA state champions. I’m especially happy we could pull off such a winning season for Deets, as this was her last season as head coach for this reputable program she’s built.”
Co-captain Kelsey Lane said this season will be one that she will never forget.
“We worked so hard throughout the whole year to reach our goals and I am so proud of everyone on the team,” Lane said. “I’m so glad I got to spend my last year with this group of girls and I look forward to coming back next year and seeing then continue to grow as a team.”
In addition to co-captains Rosen and Lane, The HHS dance team also features Ally Becker, Kayla Davis, Leslie Drueke, Katie Etter, Paige Foster, Olivia Genteman, Lexy Hagler, Hannah Luitjohan, Raven Miranda, Claire Pabst, Abigail Rogier, Reagan Thornton and Brooke Wilson.
Deets retires with stellar career numbers
Deets is an Illinois Drill Team Association (IDTA) Hall of Fame Inductee who in her 24 illustrious years from 1992 through 2016 has served as the IDTA president, and has directed the HHS program to 34 IDTA state championships, including 15 straight years with at least one IDTA state title and 10 consecutive years of winning all three of its titles at the IDTA State Finals. Deets also guided the program to a podium placement in all four years of IHSA, including winning state titles in 2014 and 2016.
Even though she is retiring as the HHS dance coach and retiring from teaching at HHS at the end of the school year, Deets will still serve as the coach of the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville dance team.
Emily Wellen, a former HHS dancer under Deets, has served as Deets’ assistant for several years and now takes over as the head coach of the HHS dance program.
HMS dance team collects a second, two thirds
Also at the IDTA State Finals, the Highland Middle School dance team earned second place with its Junior High Pom Dance routine and third-place finishes in both the Junior High Lyrical and Junior High Jazz categories.
“I am very proud of my dancers’ accomplishments this weekend,” HMS coach Erin Cotto said. “We came home with trophies and placements in all of our categories and a third place grand champion plaque. The girls have worked hard this season and have been very dedicated to the team and each other. I was pleased with their performances. They gave 100 percent and I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
The HMS dance team includes Tegan Beard, Madysen Castile, Paige Crawford, Kate Drueke, Bree Etherton, Alexis Finley, Lily Jakel, Kylie McFarland, Abbey Mortland, Shelby Stallard, Riley Stewart and Tatum Stock.