Huskiettes look to take advantage of experience, up their game

Sean C. Morgan

With eight experienced dancers returning, the Sweet Home High School Huskiettes dance team is taking on a more challenging routine during this year’s competitive season.

Returning juniors are Kaitlyn Victor, Serenity Dehart, Hailey Green, Alexus Yoder, Jerusalen Jimenez and Gracie Olsen.

Returning sophomores are Madi Seavey and Kailya Victor.

They are joined by sophomore Jaiden Dennull and freshmen Zaylee Egner and Lacey Carr.

“Jaiden, being a first-year member, is picking up things very, very quickly,” said Coach Eohe Howerton. She is doing well enough that it would seem like she had danced before, but she hadn’t.

Selected by the team, Kaitlyn Victor is captain, Howerton said.

“She is a great leader on and off the court.”

Kaitlyn Victor, Kaylia Victor, Dehart and Jimenez form the core of the routine, Howerton said. “They’re executing difficult dance sequences throughout the entire routine.”

The team started its competition season on Feb. 1 at Canby, Howerton said. There, the girls debuted half of their state routine, placing third behind Astoria and Valley Catholic, two of the top five teams in Sweet Home’s division.

Grant Union and Banks also were at the competition.

The theme of the state routine is “Those Who Endure Will Conquer,” set to “All the King’s Horses,” by Karmina.

“It’s a slower song, with a lot of peaks in the music to highlight moments in the routine,” Howerton said. The music has plenty of crescendos and big beats to complement the movements of the dancers.

The Huskiettes competed at Thurston High School in Springfield Saturday, Feb. 15, and Sprague High School in Salem on March 7.

They will host their annual exhibition, which will also feature the Oregon State University dance team, March 16 in the main gym and then compete at state on March 19.

“This team is looking great,” Howerton said. “I love the potential that they have. For it to be my last year, this is going to be memorable for me and the kids.”

Howerton is moving and will step down after six years heading the Huskiettes and 10 years at the junior high level. She said she’s thankful for support from the district and community for the Huskiettes.

At this point, she thinks her dancers are ahead of where they were at the same point last year, Howerton said. The team qualified in 2019 for the state tournament at Canby.

The Huskiettes are incorporating more complex sequences into their routine this year, Howerton said. “The difference of the routine pushes them and challenges them beyond what they were able to do last year. This is one of the best teams I’ve ever had. They work together. There’s a lot of leadership among the girls. They work hard.”