The Highland High School varsity dance team came away with a heap of hardware to put an exclamation point on the final competition for six senior team members and head coach Emily Wellen.
The Lady Bulldogs brought home four trophies and two plaques from the Illinois Drill Team Association State Finals held Saturday at the Bank of Springfield Center in Springfield. Highland captured state championships in AA Lyrical and AA Jazz categories and received second place with its AA Pom Dance routine. Senior co-captain Abigail Rogier earned second place with her solo routine.
The Lady Bulldogs earned the IDTA AA High Point award for its jazz routine after racking up a final team score of 288.5 out of a possible 300 points. Highland also walked away with the AA Grand Champion award for the combined highest score of its jazz and lyrical scores.
“Overall, I am extremely proud of my team this season,” said Highland coach Emily Wellen, who finishes off a hugely successful two-year stint at the helm of the HHS dance program.. “I use that word a lot when describing my feelings for this team. They work so hard and constantly try to make themselves better by supporting one another. This weekend was full of emotions as this was my final competition. This was also the final competition for half of the team considering we have six seniors this year. I really tried to take every moment in this weekend. It has been a pleasure to coach this team and I can’t thank them enough for working so hard for me this year.”
Rogier said she was so proud and happy to end the season and her high school career in such an amazing way.
“We performed our dances to the best of our ability yesterday and that is the best feeling,” Rogier said. “We are all very thankful for how successful we have been this season and also very proud of ourselves. We have worked so hard to achieve everything we have received this year. I will be forever thankful to have been a part of this wonderful, hard working and caring team. I’m sad to think that it is over, but I couldn’t think of a better season to end with.”
Joining Rogier as senior co-captains are Kayla Davis, Katie Etter and Olivia Genteman, and the two other senior team members are Paige Foster and Claire Pabst.
“There were a lot of tears shed this weekend by the dancers, our coach, and the family/fans,”Davis said. “We all were both sad the season is over and happy for what we have accomplished. For the six seniors and our coach, our tears were filed with pride. I can’t think of a better way for us to leave the Highland dance program. This weekend was successful and another indication of the teams hard work. I am so glad to have spent the last six years a part of a supportive, victorious, and loving dance family.”
The HHS junior varsity and Highland Middle School dance teams also earned some impressive hardware at the IDTA JV/Junior High State Finals.
The HHS JV dance team, which is coached by Kassie Elliott, placed second in JV Lyrical and third in JV Jazz. The JV squad also placed second overall in the JV Grand Champion award.
“As a first year coach, I could not be more proud of this team,” Elliott said. “They were the most dedicated, positive and hardworking young women I have ever had the opportunity to coach. They worked together when rearranging our choreography only weeks away from the state finals, and they preformed like champions. Before the girls took the floor, I told them to perform their very best, and that’s exactly what they did. I sincerely want to thank each member of this team along with their parents for everything they did to make my first year as a coach such a success.”
The HMS dance team received second place in both Junior High Lyrical and Junior High Jazz categories. The Lady Bullpups also earned second place in the Junior High Grand Champions award.
What makes it more impressive for the HMS dance squad is that only three girls returned from last year. In addition, seven girls were new to a school dance team and half of the squad consists of sixth graders.
The HHS varsity dance team consists of Kayla Davis, Bree Etherton, Katie Etter, Alexis Finely, Paige Foster, Olivia Genteman, Kylie McFarland, Abbey Mortland, Claire Pabst, Abigail Rogier Tatum Stock and Brooke Wilson.
The HHS junior varsity dance team is composed of Brianne Barbee, Tegan Beard, Lily Jakel, Shelby Stallard, Riley Stewart and Jessie Wieter.
The HMS dance team is made up of Kaleigh Casper, Paige Crawford, Mackenzie Daiber, Kate Drueke, Nevaeh Fensterman, Michayla Grieve, Reaghan Henrichs, Isabelle Hodge, Lacey Schroeder and Julia Synder.