Team leaders share their experiences from last week in Yakima
Making their move to state competition was the reward. They were thrilled with just going to Yakima.
They did not have any expectations other than doing their best.
It turned out that their best would be the best ever for their schools.
The Union High School dance team earned its highest placing in program history last weekend, taking second place in the Class 4A Hip-Hop category at the WIAA Dance/Drill state competition.
The Prairie High School dance team earned its highest placing in program history, as well, taking third place in the Class 3A/2A/1A Hip-Hop category.
This week, we talked to team leaders from each trophy-winning squad, to get a feel for what it was like to dance so well at the Yakima Valley SunDome.
“During our performance, we were trying to project that this is something we could do … to show everyone else that we’re capable,” Union’s Daisha Sterrettt said. “On the floor, we could be ourselves. We could take everything out to the floor and leave everything in the past. It was our way to show what we could do as dancers.”
“We thought we did a good job. We all felt happy,” Prairie’s Ashley Leinenbach said. “Mixed emotions because we were done performing because a lot of us are seniors. ‘Oh my goodness, our last time.’ We were competing against some really intense, serious schools and routines. We weren’t going into it expecting to place the way we did.”
The dancers waited for the results, just wondering how they did.
Then the awards ceremony.
At Class 4A, the Union dancers heard their school announced as second place.
The Titans erupted in cheers.
“Hearing the excitement, hearing the crowd, how excited they were,” Sterrett said. “We weren’t sad that we didn’t get first. ‘Wow, we placed second. We actually did it.’”
“My first reaction was, ‘We really did it,’” added Union senior Nellie Mchedlidze. “It was so amazing. I just want to say that I’m really proud of all of us.”
Prairie was in the Class 3A/2A/1A competition. The Falcons had a similar experience.
“I was genuinely very surprised,” senior Vivianna Nguyen said. “Prairie had never been announced, or placed, at state ever before in Prairie history. It was a huge thing. At first, I was like, ‘Am I dreaming?’ I was looking at my teammates and saying, ‘No way this is real. There is no what this is happening right now.’”
Oh, it was happening.
“Genuine shock,” Leinenbach said. “Lots of emotions because we worked so hard. To actually get recognition for that was super, super rewarding.”
For this year’s seniors, just going to state was special. When they were sophomores, the world shut down just two week prior to state competition. The event was called off last year, as well.
The 2020 Union team thought it had its best opportunity to shine at state. Then that chance was taken away from the squad.
“A lot of redemption,” Union coach Colleen Schoonover said. “We got to close a hole that was left open from 2020.”
Mchedlidze noted that is might be a cliche, but she had to say it anyway:
“My dreams came true, honestly. I’d always wanted to go to state.”
For Sterrett, she is grateful for her teammates. She did not dance last year during the abbreviated schedule.
“They welcomed me back like I was never gone,” Sterrett said.
Then they made some school history with the second-place showing.
“As a team, we all felt that was our best performance from the whole season,” Sterrett said.
The judges must have agreed.
“Dance is something that doesn’t get as much recognition as other sports,” Nguyen said. “It’s a category that most people would think of as an art. I really think dance is one of the most competitive sports there is. To be able to show our school that we are, in fact, a competitive sport, that we are placing at state, it’s such a big thing.”
“We’re all representing Clark County,” Prairie coach Molly Wilson said. “This is a big moment. It’s awesome that we are being recognized from Southwest Washington.”