Dancers travel to Florida for national competition

04/18/08

While the rest of the Baker students spent last Saturday in disbelief of the falling April snow, the dance squad was basking in the Daytona, Fla., sunshine.

Fresh off garnering a third-place finish at the Heart of America Athletic Conference championships, the squad took the successful routine south to battle for a national title. While the squad was unable to bring Douglas County its second national championship in consecutive weeks, the trip was still considered by many to be a success.

"We worked really hard to prepare for it," freshman Katie Sellers said. "We're proud of how we did and what we were able to do down there."

Having used April 9 as a travel and preparation day, the squad spent April 10 in the Peabody Auditorium attempting to impress the national judges. Out of the 23 teams in the second division, Baker finished 17th, four places away from advancing to Friday's finals. As a result, the squad was asked to compete in the Challenge Cup, an additional event held for the remaining squads left out of the top half.

"They improved their scores from the first round," interim head coach Lynsey Payne said. "We finished ninth in the Challenge Cup."

The final scorecards, however, did not give Baker's squad full justice as several of its point deductions were derived from non-performance based issues.

"Part of our problem was our costuming," co-captain Lindsay Friesen said. "We wore the same costumes from two years ago, and this year we were deducted points because our tops were backless."

Payne added that the other reason Baker missed out on points was due to choreography issues.

"I think the girls did a great job," Payne said. "They did the best they could do with that dance."

In an effort to make next year's trip more statistically successful, the squad brought home a tape of the teams who advanced to finals and plan to implement some of their featured strategies into next year's routine.

"We can take the tape to choreographers so they know what the routine needs to be like for next year," Friesen said.

In the past, due to fundraising, the dance squad has only been permitted to go to the national competition every other year. But because of the success and improvement seen this year, Sellers believes the five days spent in Daytona could become an annual occurrence.

"It was such a great experience, we all grew a lot closer," Sellers said. "With the exception of (April 10), the rest of the trip was spent outside of dance. Since a lot of us don't hang out outside of practice, it gave us a chance to realize the dynamics of the team."

Friday through Sunday served primarily as team bonding time, as the squad lounged on the beach, went shopping and dined together.

"We just had a great time," Payne said.

After former head coach Cathy Ritter's resignation in February, athletic director Dan Harris said he would begin the search process after the girls returned from nationals.

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