Dance team: Rogers, Zimmerman 1-2 again in Miss. 8

Rogers dancers won the high-kick competition. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

by Bruce Strand, Sports editor

Rogers Dance Team reigns again as champion of the Mississippi 8 Conference, and once again Zimmerman is the runner-up.

The RDT captured its fourth straight overall crown by winning both high-kick and jazz at the conference finale on their home court Saturday. Prior to that, the RDT had won conference jazz and kick meets.

“We have talented dancers and we push them to do their best every year,” said coach Megan David. “We don’t settle for less.”

Rogers dancers -- Front Row: Arista Metz, Melanie Long and Meghan Dorr Left to Right: Arista Metz, Jennifer Johnson, Kalli Larrabee (Back) Chelsey Hermann, Melanie Long (Front), Devyn Tostenson (Back), Natalie Gannon (Back), Jilliane Brinkman, Sarah Lengquist (Back) and Meghan Dorr

Zimmerman was second in each event Saturday and finished second for the season, also for the fourth straight year.

Monticello placed third, Big Lake fourth and Becker fifth. Only five of the conference’s nine schools have dance teams.

Rogers dancers leapt during jazz-funk competition. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

Rogers captains are Natalie Gannon and Laura Donley. The team dances to “Any Way (You Want It)” for kick and “Don’t Stop Believing” for jazz.

Gannon, who’s been a varsity dancer through the four-year dynasty, said her team never assumes they’ll win the conference.

“Oh, no, are you kidding? Definitely not. Zimmerman’s right on our butt, and they get better every year,” said Gannon. “It shows in the scores.”

Rogers has also done well in invitationals this year, winning their division at Apple Valley and Maple Grove.

“It’s not the winning, it’s doing our best that’s important,” said Gannon. “Our scores have been going up, up, up.”

It’s also gratifying that the school appreciates their efforts.

“The school likes when we dance at pep fests, the energy we bring,” she said.

Assessing the team performance at the conference final, David said: “Our jazz was definitely our best of the year. Our kick was good. I don’t know if it was our best, but it was good.”

Zimmerman's high kick team performed, including (from left) Tessa Madrigal, Taylor Osmonson, Dotsie Early, Alissa Christenson. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

“We made a lot of changes this week to make us more visually effective,” said coach Jenessa Kraus. “The girls did the best they could. Now we are looking forward to sections.”

The Thunder dance to “This is How a Heart Beats” for jazz and “Top Gun” for kick.

Zimmerman's jazz team performs, including Kristen Connelly (left) and Tessa Madrigal. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

Team captains are Linnea Jacobson, Rachel Hodge and Allie Kratzke.

Dance team has been Zimmerman’s best Mississippi 8 sport in the four years they’ve been a member. The school is joining a new conference next year.

With 34 members, dance team one of the most popular sports activities among ZHS female students.

“They like the team atmosphere, they want to be part of something at Zimmerman, and they love to dance,” said Kraus.

An interesting twist — 12 ZDT members also play soccer in the fall. Krause said many of them mentioned that soccer helped keep them fit for the dance season.

Rogers and Zimmerman will both compete in Section 2AA at North Branch on Feb. 12. Last year, Rogers placed third in both kick and dance to qualify for state for the first time.

Rogers championship team roster

Jordan Abrahamson, Macayla Braun, Jilliane Brinkman, Jackie Dietl, Laura Donley, Meghan Dorr, Jenny Dybdahl, Kayla Feiber, Nicole Fricke, Nandu Ganesh, Natalie Gannon, Chelsey Hermann, Megan Ibe, Jennifer Johnson, Heather Kilber, Alyssa Kienotich, Kalli Larrabee, Sarah Lengquist, Melanie Long, Arista Metz, Madi Nelson, Tolu Odunusl, Kate Reinert, Syd Schultz, Jenna Swancutt, Devyn Tostenson, Haley Von Bank, Stepanie Ziebell

The Rogers kick team performs, including (from left) Nandu Ganesh, Arista Metz, Chelsey Hermann (back) and Melanie Long. (Photo by Bruce Strand)