Huskies dance team gets set for competition season

Scott Swanson

Of The New Era

Sweet Home’s dance-drill competition team is doing daily doubles this week as it prepares for its first competition of the season, at Thurston on Saturday, Jan. 14.

Coach Kristin Ashcraft said that her team, which regularly performs at halftime during boys basketball games, will compete four times this season, the last at the state competition.

The team this year is a little smaller than in past years, Ashcraft said, with eight members. That places Sweet Home in the 3A small team division, after it competed in the 3A large team division last year, when there were 18 dancers.

This year’s team has talent, though, Ashcraft said, with 28 years of combined experience among the dancers. This will be Ashcraft’s second year of coaching the Huskies.

She herself has 28 years of dance experience, including performing on dance teams for semi-pro basketball and hockey teams in Bakersfield, Calif., where she attended college. She currently is a manager at the Mid-Valley Medical Plaza in Lebanon.

She said she started as gymnast, then danced in school, continued taking classes and began teaching at private studios.

“We have girls who have danced probably all their lives and we have some girls who just have natural talent,” she said. “Some of the incoming freshmen are amazing. We have some really talented girls this year.”

The captains are the only seniors on the team, Chelsea Gagner and Hayley Cole. They will try out in Woodburn on Jan. 15-16 for the all-state drill team. Other members are Kelsey McGarry, Laura Ball, Rachell Jefferson, Whitney Stoner, McKenna Burnett and Larissa Cole. The team manager is Brandi Canfield.

Sweet Home has history in dance, having won state championships in 1983 through 1985, Ashcraft said.

The team competes by presenting a routine, multiple songs cut together, in a program ranging from four to six minutes. The team will perform all or part of that routine at each of its competitions, performing the full version on March 16-17 at the OSAA state championships.

This year’s theme is “Guardian Angels.” The Huskies will perform a mixture of jazz and slower, softer lyrical dancing in their routine. At basketball games their style is more hip-hop.

Judges award points based on the overall effect of the performance, technique and formations. As the Huskies compete in sanctioned competitions at Thurston, Stayton and Woodburn before State, they can guarantee themselves a second-round berth in the state championships if they can score 60 points at one of those competitions.

The dance-drill team will hold a Mary Kay fund-raiser on from 10 to 4 Jan. 21 at high school cafeteria..