Merrill Dance Team, White are bound for State competition this weekend
BY TINA L. SCOTT
The Merrill Dance Team is headed to the Wisconsin Association of Cheer/Pom Coaches Inc. (WACPC) State Varsity Dance Competition this weekend to be held Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024, in LaCrosse.
“The team will be competing in Division 2 HipHop,” said Sydney Roberts, Assistant Dance Team Coach.
Last weekend the Merrill Dance Team competed at the WACPC Northern Regionals at D.C. Everest, competing in Division 4 Pom and Division 2 HipHop. In Division Pom, they were up against 11 teams and unfortunately didn’t place high enough to advance to State. “This was our first year doing Pom,” Roberts said. “It’s a very hard category. Coach Cassie and I couldn’t be more proud of the transformation Pom went through. They gave their best performance of the season in Pom last Saturday.”
In Division 2 HipHop, the Merrill Dance Team competed against seven other teams and took third place, advancing them to State this weekend in the HipHop competition.
At State, the Merrill team will compete against nine other teams, and the top five will get trophies. “Just about every team we go against has placed at State before, with a lot of them being State Champs or State Runner Ups at one point,” Roberts said. “Our goal is to just dance the best we can at State. If we get a trophy, that will be cool. But if we don’t and we know we tried our hardest, that will be great, as well.”
“The team’s greatest challenge in going to State is being able to keep our energy up the whole time!” she said. “It’s a 2:15 routine of going full-out the whole time.”
“The team’s strength going into this competition is that the whole team does want to do good,” Roberts said. “They do want to prove themselves to everyone that they are a State-placing team!”
One of the members of the Merrill Dance Team will also be competing individually at State. Molly White is a solo qualifier. “Junior Molly White will be competing to become part of Division 2 All State, which is essentially the best 20-30% of dancers in the state in Division 2,” Roberts said. “Molly will be competing against 42 other dancers to become Division 2 All State.” Only 20%-30% of the 42 will be announced as the 2024 Division 2 All State Team.
The Merrill Dance Team is comprised of Shanna Herdt, Bryn Imhoff, Alyssa Schneider, Paige Byer, Adison Clark, Liberty Fuchs, Emily Hayes, Maddie Prentice, Tati Anderson, Molly White, Marielle Nass, Emilie English, and Kinsey Literski. Cassie Lezotte is Head Coach.
“Out of the 13 dancers that are on the team, 9 of them are Freshmen!” Roberts said. “Our Freshmen have done a great job with the transition to Dance Team from studio dance. Dance Team is very different from studio dance,” she said. “You dance on a basketball court and you can see the judges just stare at you from the top of the bleachers.”
“Molly, Adison, Liberty, and Maddie are the veterans on this team, and they have really stepped up into a leadership role this year without being asked.”
“Coach Cassie and I both talk about how this has probably been our favorite year so far,” Roberts said. “The girls are sooo much fun to work with. They all have great personalities and great work ethics.”
“The parents this year are great, as well,” she said. “They are the most supportive parents. We couldn’t do it without them.
The State competition marks the end of the 2023-2024 Dance Team season.
The bus transporting the dancers to LaCrosse leaves from Merrill High School on Saturday at 5 a.m. If you’re up dark and early, feel free to swing by and to honk for them and help give them an exciting sendoff.