BY DAVE PEDERSEN
It was a big deal when Rockford won the section title in the jazz funk division to advance to state dance team tournament in the first year of competition.
Elation rose to a peak when Rockford placed fifth out of 12 Class A teams in the state finals Friday at the Target Center.
Yellow Medicine East defended its 2013 title and won its sixth Class A jazz title overall. The rest of the final field included Duluth-Marshall, Aitkin, Frazee, Rockford and Tracy-Milroy-Balaton.
“We knew it would be a challenge advancing to finals since our routine was not as difficult as the top contenders,” said coach Heather Holasek. “The team had a solid performance in prelims and after watching our competitors I told my team we would most likely end up in sixth or seventh. When the announcer said Rockford would be advancing to finals we were ecstatic.”
Holasek said her team was “incredibly excited” to compete in finals. Rockford was last of the six teams to advance. The scores went up slightly in the second round and so did the placing to fifth.
“We honestly couldn’t ask for a better first year as a competitive team,” adds the coach. “We actually received the same score (point total) as the fourth place team, Frazee, but they received one less ranking point. We were only 10 points (out of 800) behind third place Aitkin.”
The team includes Sadie Skeie, Leiana Jensen, Sam Vraspir, Annika Simpson, Trystin Gruber, Danielle Hagen-Johnson, Lindsey Condon and Chloe Beck. Jensen and Skeie were named to the All-Tournament team. The young team has three sophomores, three ninth-graders and two eighth-graders.
Holasek says this experience means a lot for these girls and the young Rockford program. She hopes with success comes respect for the sport.
“Students have already expressed interest in trying out for the team,” says Holasek. “I would love for more middle school students to join the team. When they join young, I am able to train them for years.”