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Morris dance team hoping to build on sectional win


That's the theme of the Morris competitive dance team this year. It's fitting, since that's exactly what the Redskins are trying to do this winter.

For the first time ever, the IHSA is sanctioning competitive dance as a sport, and it looks like the Morris contingent is ready for the challenge. Two weeks ago, the Redskins were second in the first-ever Northern Illinois Big 12 competition, but they then rebounded to win the Fieldcrest Class 2A Sectional this past weekend in Minonk.

Morris finished with a score of 86.37, which was ahead of Lincoln-Way West for first.

"Sectional was awesome," Morris senior captain Brenna Feeney said. "One of my favorite memories of the season so far."

The score by Morris is fifth best in Class 2A in the state and a big thrill for the team.

"That was a big relief," senior captain Kayla Jacklin said of the trophy ceremonies. "When they got up to second place and we still hadn't been named, we didn't know. Then they called first and we were obviously really excited."

Morris coach Becky Struck is hoping that her team can take that excitement to the next level. While the IHSA's format is drastically different from the other state competitions the Redskins have been to in the past, the Redskins are feeling good about the routine they are perfecting.

"We kind of stuck with what we normally do. We usually do the pom with a big theme. This year's theme is history," Struck said. "We've stuck with what we're used to and hopefully that's what they are looking for. So far we've had success, winning sectionals with that routine. Hopefully the same judges will be there (at state) or judges like them who like what we are putting on the floor."

"It's definitely different than the first time we performed it. After every competition or performance we go back and look at it and update it. We may look and say 'this part didn't work very well, so we want to fix it' or 'let's add this here or change that there'. We haven't too many changes from the sectional until this week. We're not changing it a whole lot, just cleaning some things up and going over parts that could look better."

One of the options that the IHSA has implemented that is different from the others is that there is some kind of strategy that is in play. Teams don't have to perform the same routine on Friday and Saturday in the finals.

"It can be but it does not have to be. That's one of their (IHSA) policies. It's just like paying attention to man-to-man defense or whatever kind of defense that you'd want to put up going into the next game," Struck said. "We could perform our pom routine on Friday night and then it depends on how it goes. We're preparing our hip-hop for the possibility of performing that on Saturday if we have to

"The pom routine was done first and ready to go. That's what we've been competing with, though we have worked on hip-hop on the side," she added. "We've actually focused on that a little more this week in case we want to perform that, too. So, if we make the finals, we'll have a decision to make. If we did well with pom, do we want to stick with that in the finals or do we want to pull out a completely different routine? We'll have no idea going in if whoever we are competing against will do the same routine or go with something different."

Regardless, the Redskins are hoping to revisit that winning feeling from the Fieldcrest Sectional — and in the process make history.

"It was one of the most exciting moments of my life I would say. Sitting there, you are so nervous," senior captain Rachel Newhalfen said of winning the sectional. "Then you hear your name called and you realize you've gotten first place, it's such a relief knowing that all of the hard work over the past weeks has paid off."

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