APDT is fueled by emotion and motivation for 21st state meet

Published 4:58 pm Monday, February 13, 2023

As the Austin Packer Dance team prepares for its 21st straight state meet appearance, there are many mixed emotions.

There is the drive to succeed, the desire to celebrate longtime bonds, and there is also the sadness that it is all coming to end for the seniors.

“It’s very cool to keep the legacy going. We’ve made so much history within the 21 years, winning it last year, and even getting third and second place before that,” Austin senior captain Kara Wolfs said. “The bond is really strong this year and we all have a very strong connection. It’s going to show on the floor. It’s going to be exciting, but also sad.”

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The Packers will begin the defense of their Class AA state high kick title when they compete in the qualifying competition at 2 p.m. Saturday in Target Center. The finals will begin at 7:15 p.m.

For many of the Packer seniors, this will be their final dance after 16 years of practices, performances, sweat and tears. The team is hoping to make their last dance, their best dance.

“I dream to dance on the state floor,” Austin senior captain Nora Tweeten said. “It’s the best feeling ever. I’m grateful for one more opportunity to give it a go.”

While Austin had a lot of success over the past few years, the team had to reload with some younger dancers this season. The captains were able to nurture those younger dancers throughout the season, which lasts approximately six months when you count offseason workouts.

“Our mental strength has grown a lot,” Austin senior Chloe Jenkins said. “We’re a lot more mentally stronger than where we were at the beginning of the season.”

Besides being successful as a team, the Packers recently had a few of the dancers recognized on the state level. Jenkins and Lily Flaherty were recently selected to the All-State dance team for kick and Tweeten was selected to the All-State jazz team.

“I’m really excited, grateful and proud of myself,” Flaherty said. “I’m grateful to represent APDT at such a good level.”

It is certain that emotions will be flooding when the Packers take the floor on Saturday, but it also established that they’ll be doing it together.

Austin senior captain Maddie Staska said there is no other way she’d like to go out.

“We have our goals and we’re ready to go and show what we have. We want to walk off knowing that’s the best that we could’ve danced,” Staska said. “It’s a good feeling when you finish up with your friends who turned into your family after six months of family.”