The Highland High School varsity dance team captured its sixth straight Illinois High School Association sectional dance championship when the ladies won the IHSA Mascoutah Competitive Dance Sectional Saturday at Mascoutah High School.
Highland did not just win the sectional again, but the ladies dominated the field of competition. Highland won the 1A dance section by a more than five points with a final team score of 92.70, which was 5.20 points better than runner-up Civic Memorial’s final team total of 87.50.
Also finishing well behind Highland but still qualifying for state in 1A Dance were Centralia (86.23), host Mascoutah (84.37), Murphysboro (84.23) and Nashville (81.70).
All six squads will compete at the IHSA Competitive Dance State Final Competition, which will be held Friday and Saturday at Grossinger Motors Arena in Bloomington.
“I am extremely proud of my team,” Highland second-year coach Emily Wellen said. “They performed an almost flawless routine and we ended up grabbing our sixth consecutive sectional title. Winning yesterday has given the girls and myself so much motivation going into this week before state. We know what we need to work on and perfect before the weekend comes. I’m so excited to get to Bloomington and see my team come alive on the competition floor. They have worked so hard all season long, I can’t believe we are approaching the end.”
Highland senior co-captain Olivia Genteman said winning a sixth straight sectional is an amazing accomplishment and now the team will be gunning for its third straight 1A state dance title.
“All of us dancers, along with new costume changes and new choreography changes, makes the win worth it,” Genteman said. “We received the highest score out of all 1A sectional competitions across the state which is another great feeling. All of us girls are striving for the third IHSA state title in a row for Highland.”
Fellow senior co-captain Kayla Davis said she had many emotions leading up to and after winning the sectional.
“As a senior, it is crazy to think we are heading to our last IHSA state competition,” Davis said. “The six of us seniors aren’t sad though because we know we have accomplished so much in our dance careers, and winning a third state championship would be a great way to end it. Our team works so hard. There is never an easy day at practice, and focusing on anything other than how we can better ourselves or our routines is hard. We constantly are working toward improving and to see all this determination and dedication pay off is our ultimate goal. I’m so excited for Friday and Saturday in Bloomington”
Katie Etter, also a senior co-captain, said that when she was in eighth grade, the Highland varsity dance team was able to get first but the team got third place during her freshman year. Then during her sophomore year, Highland was able to capture first place by a scant .02 of a point Then last year, the team repeated as state champs.
“In both years Morris was the runner up, so this year it is obvious that they are out to get us,” Etter said. “But I️ have more confidence than I️ have ever had about this year. We are doing something very different then we have the past two years.”
This year, the Highland dance team is taking their jazz routine to the state finals instead of their patented lyrical routine.
“But this routine was made to win and with the hard work and dedication that our coach, as well as every member of the team has, there is no doubt about it that we have every chance of winning our third straight state title,” Etter said. “I️ have never felt more blessed to be a part of such an amazing program.” This is our year once again!
And as for sectionals we were able to beat the second place team by 5 points. This win definitely boosted our confidence and made us realize how capable we are of winning the title yet again.