Minooka dance team secures 3rd place at state

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The Minooka varsity dance team performed at halftime of the boys basketball game on March 5. The next day, the girls took home the third place state trophy.

Thomas English, Sports Media class

The Minooka dance team was able to bring home a third-place trophy in the IHSA state competition on Saturday, March 6.

It was the first state trophy awarded to Minooka during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The team was coming off their seventh sectional win after scoring the highest in any sectional, but remained focused on the state competition. 

“It feels great to win conference and sectionals, but we then put those trophies aside and go back to work,” head coach Melissa Wallace said. 

That was the mindset of the team heading into the biggest weekend of their season. 

This year’s state competition was held virtually due to covid and was livestreamed for all the teams to watch each other and view the results as they were announced. 

Wallace and her team held their own viewing party for the big event and remained anxious until their time had come. 

The 3A competition began at roughly 2:45 p.m., but Minooka was not set to perform until 5:30 p.m. 

Finally, after hours of waiting, the 3A results were announced. Minooka finished in third place with a score of 94.06 out of 100.  The team also placed third at state during the 2019-20 season.

Maine South finished second this year with a score of 94.84, and a very strong Stevenson team took home the win with a score of 95.64. 

“This group of athletes has really proven to be relentless,” Wallace said. “We had our season start, shut down, be put on major hold, and eventually start again.” 

Covid-19 changed the course of many sports this year.

“The fact that we were able to get podium again meant a lot to me and most importantly my team because we could prove again that we are a strong and talented team,” senior Kennedy Ebner said. Ebner is a three-year member of the varsity dance team. 

The team once again proved themselves worthy of the title as one of the top teams in the state amidst the challenges and uncertainties of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“Our coaches stayed positive and hopeful. Getting third place meant that our hard work paid off,” senior Lilli Beeler said. “Even though this was one of the most difficult years we had to face, we pulled it off.”

The team consisted of multiple seniors who will continue to dance in college, but their final season of high school competition will always mean a little more. 

“These seniors never gave up. They’ve spent the last three years of high school looking forward to their senior year, and it was completely taken away from them,” Wallace said. “But instead of choosing to sulk, they chose to rise to the occasion, and be grateful for the opportunities they did get.” 

The senior group will leave behind an substantial legacy. They will have earned multiple third place state trophies as well as multiple conference and sectional championships. 

The most important aspect to the group was being a family. This group relied heavily on each other for support and became a stronger and more talented group because of it.

“I’ve known all of the seniors for a long time, and they’ve all impacted my life in many ways. I’ve formed such strong friendships and they’ve all pushed me to be a better leader and dancer myself,” junior Keira Gestel said. “They’re definitely going to be a hard goodbye.”

This year’s competitive dance season will be one for the books and this group will be remembered not only for their success, but also for their ability to persevere through the toughest of circumstances. 

“It was amazing to hear how much these athletes value being on the team, and how it is much more than just dancing,” Wallace said. “Some day the dancing will end, but the lessons we learned and memories we made will be with us forever.”