Despite being at least 60 miles away from their respective high schools, performing in the cavernous confines of the Target Center felt like home for dancers from the four area high schools participating in the dance team state tournament Friday.
That’s because hundreds of area fans came to show their support for Rocori, Sartell, St. Cloud Tech and St. Cloud Cathedral high schools at the Minnesota state dance team tournament Friday afternoon.
The fact that no local teams took home a title Friday didn’t stop those who turned out from showing the love.
The highest-placing team was Sartell, which placed fourth in the Class 2A competition.
St. Cloud Cathedral placed sixth in the same class while neither Rocori (Class 2A) nor St. Cloud Tech made it past the qualifying round of competition.
“It feels good to have that support,” St. Cloud Tech senior captain Cheyenna Gohmann said.
Gohmann and her Tigerettes fell short of reaching the Class 3A jazz finals, but they could feel the local flavor from the minute they emerged from the Target Center tunnels.
“It makes you feel like we are a family,” Gohmann said.
In the qualifying rounds, Sartell, St. Cloud Tech, St. Cloud Cathedral and Rocori fans all sat within shouting distance of each other and for most of the night, rival fans cheered just as hard for other teams as they did for their own.
“These are our hometowns we came here … and want to represent as the St. Cloud area,” St. Cloud Cathedral parent Rorri Peterson said.
In the Jazz competition, teams are judged on a scale of 1-10 in five categories: jazz skills, execution, choreography, difficulty and the effectiveness of a team’s routine.
Sartell, which won a state championship in the high kick competition in 2011, came into the day as an area favorite, and Cathedral has proved to be a perennial powerhouse at state.
The Crusaders won championships in 2010, 2009, 2008 and 2005. St. Cloud Tech’s last championship came in 1996 for high kick.
As pressure mounted for each team, coaches kept their team goals simple — just do your best. For Cathedral and Sartell, that meant a strong finish in the finals.
“We’re feeling great,” St. Cloud Cathedral head coach Emily Kelly said. “We had a goal to make it to finals today and we did that.
“We just feel lucky to be part of the top six teams in the state.”
Sartell senior and all-tournament team member Ashley Regnier said she felt grateful to be in contention for a title, but she acknowledged they were disappointed with their team’s finish.
“I think after today we have a lot of fire in our hearts,” Regnier said. “Today I would definitely say that we left that floor with no regrets.
“We might be a little bit disappointed now, but tomorrow that’s in the past. I’m so honored to be part of this Sartell dance team.”
While Sartell and St. Cloud Cathedral were both riding high on their respective finals finishes, watching other area teams and teams from around the state was a beneficial learning exercise for Rocori and St. Cloud Tech.
“We really wanted our dancers to do their best and have a good time,” Rocori co-head coach Jen Illies said. “It was overwhelming but exciting for them.”
For the Tigerettes, any disappointment stemming from not making the finals was tempered by the chance for redemption today in the high kick competition.
“We’re just so proud to make it back to the tournament in jazz,” head coach Sue Arnold said. “But obviously you always want to make it to finals.”
While day one didn’t result in area champions, day two, the high kick competition, could yield different results. That hope is all the motivation any team needs, Sartell’s other all-tournament team member, senior Ashley Bartlett said.
“This is literally fuel for our fire,” she said, noticeably excited. “If they don’t think we’re going to come back with a vengeance, they’ve got another thing coming.”