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Morris dancers looking for next best three minutes


Right now that is how the Morris competitive dance team is feeling after winning its own Class 1A sectional to advance to state for a second straight season.

“Winning sectionals on Saturday was an amazing feeling for everyone,” senior captain Ashley Gibson said. “Being in that top spot reassures you that you must be doing something right and gives you a whole new level of confidence and drive to do even better at state where it truly matters.”

“This is honestly the most amazing win,” fellow senior Molli Aldrich said. “I feel like we really have transformed as a team from the beginning. We’ve worked so hard and to have this experience with my team in my last year is so emotional.”

On Saturday, Aldrich said the team was going to be going all out at practice this week to perfect the routine.

“It’s going to be crazy. We’re going to be here every night until 8 o’clock and everything the coaches say we are going to take into consideration and do everything we can to get a good score,” she said. “This year they are more into picking out dancers who are doing different moves and emphasizing different girls doing different things. From last week to this week we made a huge transformation to doing stuff like that and we are going to keep doing that.”

However, with school being closed Monday and Tuesday because of inclement weather, it has hindered the team a little bit because they can’t practice.

“Missing two days of school before state will slightly throw the team off, but even though we can’t practice, it doesn’t mean that its not on our minds constantly,” Gibson said. “We’ll spend our time off thinking about what we need to work on so when we are able to go back to practice on Wednesday we can push ourselves that much harder to perform even better at state.”

No matter when they get back to the practice floor, it will be the same dedication junior captain Peighton Shannon said.

“We’re going to make everything perfect,” she said. “We’re going to make things as good as they can be.”

Morris coach Becky Struck said that part of executing that plan is paying attention to what the judges think of the team’s previous performance.

“I think we’ll take a look at the judges scoresheets and see what they have to say,” she said. “After [Saturday], we’ll probably sit down and talk about what things we want to change, if anything.”

“We will be tweaking minor things here and there that the judges critiqued on,” Gibson said. “We will also continue to work on endurance and energy, which is a must when it comes to competing against some of the states top teams.”

Last year Morris won the Minonk-Fieldcrest Sectional in Class 2A and then finished seventh at the IHSA state event in Bloomington at the U.S. Cellular Coliseum. Gibson said the team learned some key things by being at the event last winter.

“The main thing we learned last year at IHSA state is that it is a completely different floor than the typical gym floor that we are used to competing on,” she said. “We have the type of floor they use in our auditorium, so it is going to help us get used to it so it is not so strange for some of the girls. We also learned that the judges sit lower, and you are under spotlights, so facial expressions are a major factor in a top performance, which is something we can easily work on.”

Obviously, the goal at state is to bring home a championship. However, according to Aldrich, the team goals are in reality much simpler.

“Honesty, going out there and performing out best is our main priority. Getting whatever placement we get is a big accomplishment,” she said. “We are so happy with what we have. We’re going to gun for the top three places because you get a plaque and everything, so that is what we are hoping for. But if not, that’s OK. Obviously we want to finish higher than we did last year.”

That will take the three best minutes of the season according to Gibson.

“We are going to have to take that drive and passion we had on Saturday [at the sectional] with us and pretend like all those people who came out to support on Saturday are still there and perform even bigger and better,” she said. “The team know this is it, we have one shot, three minutes of our entire lives to show them we are capable of being the state champions, and with these thoughts in our heads I believe we will wow them with an amazing routine.”

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