BY MEREDITH WATHNE
The MSUM dance team returned from nationals last week with a trophy for their fourth place finish in the World University division of pom. The Dragons competed against universities from around the globe, like China, Japan, Mexico and Columbia.
“We had never participated in the Worlds competition before. This was our first year,” said head coach Kari Henry. “We entered into it last minute. It was a lot of fun.”
Both coach Henry and the dance team members enjoyed dancing in the new category for the first time, citing that seeing other countries dance, and the mutual support for the sport, made the experience one to remember. North Dakota State University was the only other American team to finish higher than the Dragons, claiming third place honors.
“It was super fun. We got to take pictures with (world university teams) and their flags,” said Callie Larson, accounting senior and team captain.
The Dragons also competed in both pom and jazz in the open division, and missed finals in pom by just 0.08 points for a seventh place finish. The event is all about precision and high-energy. Every move is sharp and tight. It typically features upbeat songs that get the crowd pumped up, and the top 50 percent of teams make it to the final round.
“It was frustrating. We have two weeks of six-hour practices, and that’s all you work for. To miss by that small of a point, it was really frustrating,” said Melissa Stephan, photojournalism senior and team captain.
The Dragons finished on the lower end of the spectrum in the Jazz competition, but overall felt good about their performance. Jazz is one of the more competitive categories at nationals and typically features the most entrants. Twenty-two teams competed this year.
“Even though we had a low score, it was the best I have ever felt coming off the floor after Jazz,” Stephan said.
According to Henry, this year’s been one of the best seasons the team has had in her time coaching. Injuries and a couple girls quitting hindered the start of the season, but the team rallied and became stronger than ever.
“One thing we had this year that we haven’t had the last couple years is that we went out as a team, instead of individuals,” Stephan said. “This was the first year I felt everyone on the floor with me.”
The dance team is done with competition and big performances for the year, but will appear at a couple basketball games before the season is over.
“The end of the season is always bittersweet,” Henry said. “It’s always sad to have to say goodbye to our seniors … I would just like to say thank you to the 12 amazing young ladies who made of the 2013-14 DDT (Dragon Dance Team). You all have a special pace in my heart.”
The senior captains are sad to leave their team, but wanted to leave their “family” with solid words of wisdom.
“You learn a lot about teamwork and leadership,” said Cassidy Stumm, social work senior and captain. “Learn to take criticism and apply it.”
“There are going to be moments in dance that you hate, and you’ll want to quit,” Stephan said, “but you just have to push through it, and it will be worth it.”