2/21/2013 9:33:00 PM Bomber dancers are state champs!
Despite coming into the State Tournament as an underdog for the first time in 9 years, the Bomber Dance Team has captured the gold.
After a 2nd place finish behind Lake City at Sections, Coach Madi Salisbury needed new battle plans. "The judges sent us a message that we heard loud and clear-getting 2nd forced us to realize it was now or never," Salisbury explains. "We refocused this week and it made all of the difference."
Salisbury was unsure of how the team would respond to uncharted territory heading into State as runner-ups. "State week was a brand new experience for everyone on the team this year. The veteran dancers had never gone into State as runners-up and the rookies had never gone to State period," Salisbury said. But the team met the challenge with the right attitude and determination.
"The girls picked themselves up and worked harder than ever. State week for Cannon Falls has historically been an easy one-but not this year. It was the hardest and most stressful week of our entire season. And it was just what we needed."
After a strong week of practice, the team and the coaches were ready to do what was needed to come home champions and they sought inspiration from other successful teams. Salisbury explains, "When we arrived at the State Jazz Tournament on Friday, the first thing I remember was seeing the YME dancers stretching and focused. I turned to the other coaches and said, 'They're going to win. They already did by how mentally prepared they are.'" And sure enough, YME took home the gold in Jazz that night.
Salisbury continues, "We asked the girls to give us 20 more hours of focus. We told them to run through the dance at every second, listen to the kick music on repeat, and remain focused on our goal-blue." And focus they did.
From the moment the girls left the hotel room Saturday morning, the girls had a relentless focus and determination. "The walk from the hotel to the Target Center intimidated me!" Salisbury quipped. "They all had their headphones in with our high kick song playing and they walked in a silent single file line." The team only stopped to appreciate cheers and encouragement from last year's alumni in the "blue skyway."
"It was amazing," Senior Captain Brekkan Winchell said. "But after we soaked in their support, it was game on. We stayed focused the rest of the day and it paid off!"
After a strong performance at Prelims, despite some expected nerves, the coaches were still a bit anxious following the surprising Sections results. "The announcement of the Finalists was nerve-racking," Salisbury describes. "Finalists are announced in performance order. We heard: Aitkin, Lake City, YME, Lac Qui Parle Valley, Bold. Jamie and I looked at each other and said 'Uh oh'. Then we heard CANNON FALLS! What a relief!" The team was slated to dance 6th for Finals which is the best spot to dance according to Coach Salisbury.
Prelims and Finals are judged as two separate competitions, so coaches receive a score packet when leaving the Prelims floor. "We were not sure if we wanted to open it," Salisbury notes. "But I peaked in, and the first thing I saw was 1-Cannon Falls. I almost fell over and we all cried. Then I saw Lake City was in 4th and I think I cried again."
Despite a strong finish at Prelims, the coaches decided to keep the girls determined and focused. "Seeing them respond to the adversity following Sections, we didn't want them to get too confident or comfortable. We decided as a coaching staff to tell the girls that they were tied for 1st and that the top three spots were 8 points apart." The strategy worked and the girls maintained their unwavering focus right up to the second they walked onto the Finals floor.
"Right before we entered the floor for Finals, the coaches called us over said, 'I'm sorry, but we lied to you...you were not tied for 1st in Prelims,'" Senior Captain Emilee Lorentz recalls. "I think our faces went white. Then they said, 'You're in first by 3 points, so go out there and prove to those judges that you are CHAMPIONS!'" After a few tears and some screams of excitement, the team entered the floor with the most confidence Salisbury has seen from her dancers all season. "They rocked it and when we left the floor, we were greeted by high fives and cheers. They did it. They left no doubt."
Awards were mostly a blur to Salisbury. "I was really nervous because they announced YME in 3rd and Aitkin in 2nd. It could have been us or Lake City in first and after Sections I was really unsure," Salisbury explains. "But looking at the video now, I think we were the only ones that didn't know because everyone had their eyes on us."
Salisbury could not have asked for more from the weekend, "No matter what the outcome it was an amazing weekend. State this year was the best of my career and not just because of the championship-it was full of sportsmanship, teamwork and support. Those girls pushed themselves so far last week and they really proved themselves. What an amazing accomplishment!"
The team was greeted Sunday morning with a hometown welcome from all of their supporting fans. Police squad cars, fire engines and sign-yielding fans lined the streets to show their pride.
Coach Salisbury expressed her appreciation, "Thank you to the community for everything! It was so amazing to see everyone come to send us off on Thursday, and then welcome us home as Champions on Sunday."
Families, friends and fans of the team filled the high school gym Sunday morning for a quick pep fest where the coaches and captains spoke and then the girls danced their State Champion routine one last time-this time with blue medals around their necks. Coach Salisbury boasts, "They were wearing PJs and their blue medals. I'm pretty sure only half of them had brushed their hair that morning. I was speechless. They were beautiful."