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Looking to take the next step

Morris poms hope for state title after three straight runner-up finishes

The Morris poms team hopes to bring home a state championship trophy this year after finishing second the last three years.
The Morris poms team hopes to bring home a state championship trophy this year after finishing second the last three years.

MORRIS — In the 1990s, the Buffalo Bills finished as the second-best team in the NFL four years in a row.

The Morris poms team has finished second at the IHSA Competitive Dance state finals for the last three years, and have their eyes on doing what the Bills couldn't.

Bring home the big trophy.

"We've finished third the last three years," first-year Morris coach Megan Carlson said. "It will be nice for the seniors to finish off with first place. Their freshman year, it was the first time we were every on the podium, and that was really neat. The next year, it was nice, too. After finishing second again last year, they want to bring home first place."

The seniors on the team are Anna Benson, Mackenzie Eber, Chloee Hansen, Grace Larson, Haley McDonald, and Maddie Olson. They are joined by juniors Izzy Hess, Mara Punke, Jeanette Ringer, and Macy Rodgers, sophomore Emily Lindenborn, and freshmen Alexa Edwards, Madi Pilch, Jenna Siegel and Chloe Jany.

The Redskins finished first last weekend at the Class 1A Normal West Sectional. Schools from all three classes competed at Normal West, and Morris' score of 91.37 was higher than every other team except Class 3A champion Minooka. Carlson noted that their sectional score was the highest of any Class 1A team at any sectional in the state.

"I love numbers," she said. "So I took all of the scores from around the state and put them in a spreadsheet. Ours was two points more than any other Class 1A team. That's a huge difference when it's usually measured in tenths or hundredths of a point."

While the sectional performance was one to remember, Carlson feels that her team is still improving.

"We nailed it in the sectional," she said. "But then we came back, practiced Sunday and had a performance Monday this week, and it was better than our sectional. I definitely think these girls are ready."

For many teams, the season will be over after the state competition. Morris, however, will be making its second straight trip to the national competition at Disney's Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Florida, the weekend after state.

"We went there last year, and it was just a great experience," Carlson said. "To see the competition from all around the country was an eye-opener. We made it to the final day, which people were telling us was unheard of for a team in its first year.

"These girls saw what the competition was like and came back even more focused to win the state title this year."

The Redskins will perform their jazz routine at the state competition, and will also perform it at the national competition. However, they will also add a poms routine at nationals. They have been focusing on the jazz routine the last few weeks to get it ready for the state competition, but they have also been working on the poms routine.

"We work on them both during the season," Carlson said. "We are more focused on jazz right now, but mixing in the poms routine keeps us from getting stale."

Carlson also noted the excellent training the girls received before entering high school at the three Morris dance studios - Caroline's Toe and Tap, Donna Mueller's School of Dance, and Pam's Academy of Dance.

"We have a pretty good mix of girls from all three," Carlson said. "They are all such good teachers and they have their different strengths. When the girls get together in high school, they can learn from each other.

"We have an amazing group of girls. That's the main thing about this group. There is just something different about them. Every girl is a natural leader, but they are all able to take advice from their teammates. They are so close. They spend so much time together that they have become a family."

A family that wants one big trophy for the mantel.

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