ABOVE - Ashley Payne captured raw video of the BU teams during the day of the HAAC championship.
As the defending national champions, the Baker University dance team entered the Heart of America Athletic Conference championship Saturday under pressure and with high expectations.
The team rose to the challenge, though, placing first in hip-hop and second in the small dance category. The performance earned the ‘Cats another bid to the National Dance Alliance Collegiate Championships.
Captain Kristina Shiddell said she was proud of the team’s performance because it was the first collegiate level competition for many of the dancers.
“There was a lot of pressure on all of us, so I’m really proud of the way we performed and how the results went, as well as everyone’s attitude and good sportsmanship,” Shiddell said.
In its small dance routine, the team fell short of the title to Benedictine College.
“Benedictine is a really strong squad as well, and we had some good competition with them,” head dance coach Lynsey Payne said. “That day the judges just liked them more.”
The Ravens were the national runner-up behind Baker last season, and the ‘Cats should get another shot to compete against Benedictine at the national championship in April.
“I think that Benedictine again is going to be our biggest competition,” Payne said. “Obviously we would like to go and win again, but we do have some things to work on between now and nationals.”
Shiddell said the team does not want to set any expectations for nationals, but it is hopeful for another championship-worthy performance.
“Every year is different, and so we are just going to continue to work really hard for the next two months and prepare ourselves and then be open to the results that will come from that,” Shiddell said.
The dance team will return to Daytona Beach, Fla., for nationals April 11-15, where it will perform in both the hip-hop and small dance competition.
Shiddell said taking two different routines divides the team’s preparation time, but, she believes in its ability to balance the performances.
“Instead of being able to devote every practice preparing for one routine, we do have to split that time up, and so it is a larger responsibility for each of the dancers,” Shiddell said. “I guess it could be overwhelming, but I think that our team is very capable of handling it.”
The Baker University cheer squad also competed at the HAAC championships Saturday, placing third behind Benedictine and Central Methodist University.
“Even though it wasn’t a perfect performance, you always want to have room to grow and improve and I think that we have that,” head cheer coach Allyssa King said.
The squad did not receive a bid to the national championship, but King said the ‘Cats will use the results as motivation for the 2013 competition.