Packer dance team clinches its 12th straight trip to state

Published 5:08pm Saturday, February 8, 2014

The Austin Packer dance team clinched its 12th straight trip to the Class ‘AA’ state dance meet at the Section 1AA meet in Packer Gym Saturday.

The Packers took third place in the high kick division with a ranking point of 10 to earn a spot at the state meet. Austin finished sixth and missed out on state in a very competitive jazz division.

This season was far from routine for the Packers as they were adjusting to a new head coach in Kayla Sellers, who is a former member of the Packer dance team herself.

“I’m very thankful to be going back,” Austin junior Kendall Hackensmith said. “It’s different than anything I’ve experienced with the new coaches, but we’re very grateful. Honestly, we weren’t so sure if we were going to make it with it the new system, but we’re very thankful for this adventure. We’re going back to state.”

When the Packers were called out as state qualifiers, the team immediately began celebrating in front of their home crowd. A wave of pressure was also lifted from the squad and its coaches.

“It’s tough competition. They always rise to the occasion and they feed off the pressure,” Sellers said. “Our main goal was to get to state and the rest is just icing on the cake.”

Austin senior Erin Dankert has been to state before, but she said the feeling of qualifying for state never gets old.

“It’s amazing. I’ve been there for the last three years and it’s amazing,” Dankert said. “There are no words to explain it. There were a lot of changes [this year] and we had to put in so much work.”

Dankert said the home crowd gave the Packers all of the motivation that they needed when they were competing in their adrenaline-pumped high kick routine.

“It’s so cool having over half of the stands stand up with a sea of red when you’re dancing,” Dankert said. “It’s very energizing.”

Austin’s first 11 state appearances in their streak came under head coach Jen Sims, who retired at the end of last season.

Sellers danced under Sims when she was with the Packers and it was quite the task for her take over head coaching duties this season.

“It was kind of a whirlwind,” Sellers said. “It went really fast, but the girls made it easy. We’re really lucky to have the girls that we have.”

The Packers will compete at the Class ‘AA’ state meet at Target Center in Minneapolis this Saturday.


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