The tedious practices paid off.
For the first time in more than 30 years, the St. Francis High School dance team won first place in Division 3 poms and placed runner-up in Division 2 kick during the Wisconsin Association of Cheer/Pom Coaches state championships in La Crosse on Feb. 7.
Coach Beth Obst said the dance team competed against 24 teams in poms and 16 teams in kick. More than 2,000 girls competed at the event.
"We're undefeated in poms," senior Molly Giombi said.
Team captain Stephanie Goodwin said when she joined the squad as a freshman, the dance team took 12th place in poms. In 2006, the team ranked seventh. Last year, the team moved up to second.
The team also has drastically improved its kick performance. Four years ago, the team ranked 14th in that competition. While it opted not to do a kick routine in 2007, the team took fifth place in the competition in 2008. This year, the squad scored second place.
"Next year, we'll get first (place) in kick," Goodwin said.
This year was a challenge because more than half of the team was made up of underclassmen, sophomore Rachael Obst said.
"When they announced us for first place (in poms), everyone started crying because we were so shocked," she said. Even coaches from other teams had "tears in their eyes" because St. Francis is considered "an underdog" in the competition, Giombi said.
"It was one of the best weekends of my life, hands down," she said.
Next year, the team expects even more underclassmen to join the ranks. Five members from the middle school poms, which placed first in both the poms and funk competition this year, will be freshmen. The middle school poms is made up of seventh- and eighth-graders at Deer Creek.
To prepare for the season this year, the St. Francis High School dance team participated in a rigorous three-hour practice three days a week, running stair laps, lifting weights and the like. In the beginning of the season, the team's Sunday practice was expanded to four hours instead of three. During the summer, the team also went through a boot camp.
"We really focused this season," Giombi said.
Chantel Balzell can be reached at (262) 446-6602.
By the Numbers
Here's a glimpse of who was on the
St. Francis High School dance team for the 2008-09 school year:
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