Center Stage: APDT makes history, moves on to state

Published 5:33 pm Monday, February 12, 2024

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The Austin Packer dance team continues to set new standards as the team is setting some serious milestones.

Not only did the Packers clinch their 23rd straight trip to state at the Section 1AA meet in Kasson Saturday, they also took first in jazz and high kick for the first time in program history. The team will also have a seventh grader in a state meet lineup for both kick and jazz for the first time ever.

In fact, the team has two seventh graders competing in varsity state as Ashlynn Krumm and Emmy Diaz have both been on varsity jazz throughout the season. Krumm started the season with the Packer JV high kick team, but she was brought up to the varsity team in December after showing the necessary skills to help the squad out.

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“At first it was overwhelming and scary, but now I feel it’s a lot more welcoming. It’s fun now. The older girls have been really welcoming and nice. They’ve talked me through it,” Krumm said. “I’m excited, but I definitely didn’t think I’d be here. I’m lucky to do this.”

AHS head coach Kayla Sellers also coached Krumm’s older sisters Kendra Miller, a 2014 AHS grad and Abby Miller, a 2018 AHS grad. Sellers recalls Krumm running around during dance meets and she also recalls seeing Krumm while Sellers was teaching at Southgate Elementary school. Sellers also taught Diaz in class at Southgate.

“They were both kind of a little stinkers,” Sellers said. “Now they are mature, awesome young ladies. For them to be able to compete on the state floor, it’s a very full circle kind of moment.”

Austin senior Rachel Danielson said the veterans on the team have gone out of their way to make Krumm feel welcome.

“We all talk to her and we all try to be positive,” Danielson said. “If we have critique for her, we’ll say it in a nice way. We’ll be uplifting.”

APDT finished sixth in high kick in state last season and APDT won its lone state title in high kick in 2022. Once again, the team is aiming to put out its best effort on the big stage.

“We like to harp on each other when we’re getting down to the nitty gritty, because this is the last chance and we either make it or we don’t,” captain Eava Nelson said. “We want to walk off the floor with no regret and put out our best performance.”

Last year the Packers missed out on state jazz by a point, so the team is ecstatic about being in both events this year. Captain Lexi Yokiel said that kick and jazz each offer unique challenges.

“For jazz, I think of turn consistency and everything has to be together when we’re turning,” Yokiel said. “For kick, I think about kick height and our technique. Our main goal is to have our best performance of the year.”

Besides pushing each other hard in practice, the Packers have learned how to communicate with each other in an effective way this season.

“We’re honest with each other and it makes us feel like a family and a sisterhood,” senior captain Gabby Hernandez said. “It’s the best thing we can be a part of.”

The Class AA meet will be held in Target Center in Minneapolis this weekend. The Packers will compete in the jazz at 2 p.m. Friday, with the finals scheduled for 7:15 p.m. and Austin will compete in high kick at 2 p.m. Saturday with the finals scheduled for 7:15 p.m.

Even though they’ve kept the state streak alive, the Packers are far from content.

“I feel like the pressure is even higher, because we always want to improve and move forward,” Danielson said.