Huskiettes finish third in state competition

Sweet Home’s dance/drill team finished its season with third place at the state championships Saturday at the University of Portland.

The Huskiettes’s third came in a field of 11 teams behind Sherwood and Valley Catholic. Molalla was sixth and Cascade 10th in the small division. Stayton won the large division.

Sweet Home improved on its seventh-place finish last year — out of eight teams.

Also, this year, seniors Chelsea Gagner and Haley Cole were chosen to the all-state team, which included 10 dancers from the 3A, 2A and 1A divisions. Selection to the team is the result of individual competitions held in January. Winners are announced at the state competition.

“It was wonderful,” said second-year Coach Kristin Ashcraft of her team’s performance. “This year this team was really close. They really bonded. When you have a group of dancers that really get along well, you can tell. They like their teammates.

Ashcraft said the team has been practicing twice a day for most of the last three weeks. She said team members were concerned when the recent snowfall kept them from practicing as much during those days.

“I told them, ‘Don’t worry. You’re ready,'” Ashcraft said. “They did really good at the city show Sunday before we left. I was confident.”

Besides Gagner and Cole, members of the Huskiettes are juniors Kelsey McGarry, Laura Ball and Rachell Jefferson, and freshmen Whitney Stoner, Larisa Cole and McKenna Burnett. The team manager is Brandi Canfield.

Cole and Gagner are both four-year veterans of the dance squad, Cole, who Ashcraft said has a 4.0 GPA, is going to Western University to major in psychology.

Gagner has 3.6 GPA and plans to pursue law at the University of Oregon.

“I’m really going to miss my seniors,” Ashcraft said.