Geneva, Stevenson big winners at IHSA state dance finals
The Geneva High School girls competitive dance team achieved something even NBA legend Michael Jordan couldn't do: winning a fourth straight title.
The lady Vikings on Saturday edged out Eisenhower High School by .22 points Saturday in downstate Bloomington to win the Class 2A Illinois High School Association Competitive Dance title.
Stevenson High School rebounded from a second-place finish last year to capture the Class 3A title this year, and Highland High School won the Class 1A crown.
The Geneva team, which did not have a returning senior from the 2016 championship team, has won all four years since the statewide competition began.
"I'm really, really proud of the girls. They worked so hard," said Geneva head coach Amy Van Wagenen. "It all happened because they are the hardest working group of young ladies I've ever been with. They would never settle for anything than their absolute best. They put it all on the floor today and wound up winning."
Geneva High School junior and team spirit leader Carly Ruggeri said the squad of 15 performed Miley Cyrus' song "Drive" for their final routine. Going into the final day, Ruggeri said the team was tied after Friday's round and a bit nervous going into the finals but "put everything on the floor."
"We're overwhelmed. It doesn't feel real yet. We worked so hard for this," Ruggeri said. "This is the hardest working team I've ever been a part of."
Kristin Piekarski, head coach of the Varsity Patriettes of Stevenson High School, said the 23 girls on the team danced to "How Will I Know?" a cover of the Whitney Houston song.
Pietkarski said the team choreographed its dance and had an unwavering commitment to each other and the program.
"It's a pretty special moment when something you choreographed takes first place in the state," Pietkarski said.
Sonja Rzeszutko, a former Neuqua Valley High School girls dance coach who is now a commentator for the IHSA, said the caliber of the competition and difficulty level of routines has increased each year.
"Teams are coming much more prepared. They're bringing harder routines. All three divisions were really, really tough," she said. "It's different every year."
Suburban Dance WinnersTwo suburban competitive dance teams won championships in Saturday's Illinois High School Association state finals. Here's how suburban squads fared in categories for large, medium and small schools, according to the IHSA website.
3A (large schools)
1. Stevenson High School, Lincolnshire
2. Huntley High School
3. Maine South High School, Park Ridge
4. Lake Park High School, Roselle
5. South Elgin High School
6. York High School, Elmhurst
7. Bartlett High School
10. Glenbrook High School, Glenview
11. Waubonsie High School, Aurora
12. Naperville North High School
2A (medium schools)
1. Geneva High School
5. Libertyville High School
6. Fenton High School, Bensenville
7. Wauconda High School
9. Mundelein High School
10. Vernon Hills High School
11. Lake Zurich High School
12. Cary Grove High School
Class 1A (small schools)
4. Montini High School, Lombard
8. Aurora Central Catholic High School
9. Sycamore High School