The team rosters are set, teams are doing their final touch-ups, and we are in full on state-mode around here. I don’t know about you, but I think there won’t be much concentrating on “real life” for the next 3 days in the dance team world. The whole dance team year circles around the state tournament, and if you’ve never made the pilgrimage (yes, that’s what it is) to the Target Center, you are missing out! Clear those schedules and get yourself to the home of all things dance for 48 straight hours – the MSHSL State Dance Team Tournament. This is the 40th annual event, and what a milestone it will be. Our field of qualifiers is top notch this year – congratulations to those who managed to achieve the highest honor of a berth in the tournament. It is an experience you will never forget. Good luck, shine on!
Jazz Day – Friday February 14th 2014:
Class A Jazz: The class A jazz field is typically the most under-appreciated of the divisions, with AAA having such a lead on this group in the skills department. I think this is really unfair though having coached it first hand – class A is the best at making something out of nothing, and champions out of rookies! Don’t miss out on watching this great group of qualifiers fight it out for every single point. There is a lot of drama in a class where anyone can have a bad turn day and throw things off. I challenge AA and AAA fans to break out a scoresheet for this group and see just how hard it is to pick the finalists for yourself. (you can download a grid for scoring on my state tournament page). Keep an eye out for newcomer Rockford to try to break into the top pack of western and northern teams that will be returning to the field this year. I like returning champ Yellow Medicine East’s chances as well as anyone from section 4. With Aitkin slipping to 3rd this year in their section, they could easily battle back for state time. Zumbrota Mazeppa will try to show last year wasn’t a one time gig on the podium, but not having competed against anyone outside their section, there are no guarantees.
Class AA Jazz: AA jazz is all about the finesse this year as there is no clear leader with the departure of Chaska to AAA. Benilde and Totino Grace have battled it back and forth all year, but when hardware was on the line (conference and sections), it’s been all TG. Totino is dancing like a team with a chip on their shoulder after more 2nd place finishes than anyone in recent dance team history. Perhaps the Egals will get a blue this year, and it could be kick and/or jazz. Benilde on the other hand has a more innovative and risky dance than I’ve seen from them, and I’m interested to see how the red will play out on the state floor. Other names in the hunt this year include a strong showing from Sartell, St. Cloud Cathedral, Mound Westonka, Holy Family, and Simley. There will likely be some new faces in finals this year, with those bringing the delicate touches to the state floor finding gold.
Class AAA Jazz: The highlight of the jazz division is always the epic struggle of Wayzata, Maple Grove, and Eastview. Again this year it looks like these teams will be in the medal hunt, a tradition going back to 2009. Since then, these 3 have had a lock on the podium. I’d bet we’ll be seeing that again this year. Chaska will try to return to AAA finals along with a strong team from St. Cloud Tech who has been looking solid all year. Blaine, Lakeville South, and Spring Lake Park will be in the hunt, and I’d especially like to see the SLP routine against the state field. They should keep everyone on their toes this year.
Kick Day – Saturday February 15th
Class A Kick: The strength of class A is in it’s kick programs and this year’s field should be exciting. With the departure of champ Cannon Falls, we’ll have a new victor – which at this point could very well be Aitkin. The All-Starz are scoring big this year and with their rival gone haven’t seen much of a challenge for the top. Montevideo and Yellow Medicine East will be the fun matchup to watch as they’ve flip flopped placement a few times this year. Both teams are strong enough for a medal. Lake City returns looking for another finals berth, as will a solid Pelican Rapids team. Dark horses include PACT Charter, Lac Qui Parle, and Frazee for a trip to the night session. With 4 new teams in the lineup, this will be a breakthrough state for someone.
Class AA Kick: If jazz was finesse, kick is all about nuance. So much of what we see in AA is subtle changes in difficulty and execution so keep your eyes peeled for even the tiniest bobble that could cost someone. Totino Grace, Sartell, and Cannon Falls are charging ahead in the pack and these 3 mean business. The work ethic and drive alone of these 3 groups will be a heavy presence in the air on Saturday. I think it’s going to take a lot more than who wants it more, its going to take that magic performance that sells the whole package to crown a champ here. St. Cloud Cathedral, Benilde, Holy Angels, and Austin have all had excellent kick years and will be worth a look for finals.
Class AAA Kick: I think this division will be won off the floor this year as teams will be doing most of the needed work prior to arriving at state. Those who plan their routines well, surprise and amaze us will stand out against a deep field of strong kickers with the best technique and height we’ve had as a sport. Conditioning and details are at their best in AAA kick, so the bottom of the scoresheet will really be setting these teams apart. Look out for Eastview’s return this year – they have a dance that I can only describe as a special one in their library of great routines. Chaska is going to be bringing out all of their creative best for their Sherlock themed routine, and I think we’ll see big things from the likes of St. Cloud Tech, Brainerd, Eden Prairie, Faribault, and Lakeville South too. Some things that shouldn’t ever have been clean and hit were sheer perfection from the section 1 teams last weekend- so the bar has certainly been raised for this division. This year reminds me very much of 2008 – the last time AAA had this many quality routines in one year. I can’t wait to see this one play out.
Check back tomorrow for live, instant updating coverage of the state tournament! Or join us on Facebook and Twitter for updates all tournament long. See you on the dance floor!