Geneva, Stevenson big winners at IHSA state dance finals

 
 
Updated 1/28/2017 11:53 PM
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  • Geneva High School performs Saturday during the Competitive Dance finals at U.S. Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington.

      Geneva High School performs Saturday during the Competitive Dance finals at U.S. Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington. Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

  • Analese Demaio of Stevenson hugs assistant coach Laura Michel after their big win in the 3A division Saturday during the Competitive Dance finals at U.S. Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington.

      Analese Demaio of Stevenson hugs assistant coach Laura Michel after their big win in the 3A division Saturday during the Competitive Dance finals at U.S. Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington. Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

  • Stevenson shows off their first place 3A trophy Saturday at the Competitive Dance finals at U.S. Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington.

      Stevenson shows off their first place 3A trophy Saturday at the Competitive Dance finals at U.S. Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington. Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

  • Carly Ruggeri of Geneva hugs her coach Amy Vanwagenen after the big win Saturday at the Competitive Dance finals at U.S. Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington.

      Carly Ruggeri of Geneva hugs her coach Amy Vanwagenen after the big win Saturday at the Competitive Dance finals at U.S. Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington. Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

  • Stevenson High School performs Saturday during the Competitive Dance finals at U.S. Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington.

      Stevenson High School performs Saturday during the Competitive Dance finals at U.S. Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington. Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

  • Lake Park High School performs Saturday during the Competitive Dance finals at U.S. Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington.

      Lake Park High School performs Saturday during the Competitive Dance finals at U.S. Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington. Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

  • Fenton High School performs Saturday during the Competitive Dance finals at U.S. Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington.

      Fenton High School performs Saturday during the Competitive Dance finals at U.S. Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington. Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

  • Waubonsie Valley High School performs Saturday during the Competitive Dance Competition finals at U.S. Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington.

      Waubonsie Valley High School performs Saturday during the Competitive Dance Competition finals at U.S. Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington. Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

  • Lake Zurich High School performs Saturday during the Competitive Dance Competition finals at U.S. Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington.

      Lake Zurich High School performs Saturday during the Competitive Dance Competition finals at U.S. Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington. Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

  • Bartlett High School performs Saturday during the Competitive Dance finals at U.S. Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington.

      Bartlett High School performs Saturday during the Competitive Dance finals at U.S. Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington. Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

  • Montini High School performs Saturday during the Competitive Dance finals at U.S. Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington.

      Montini High School performs Saturday during the Competitive Dance finals at U.S. Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington. Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

  • Vernon Hills High School performs Saturday during the Competitive Dance finals at U.S. Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington.

      Vernon Hills High School performs Saturday during the Competitive Dance finals at U.S. Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington. Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

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.

Geneva celebrates their 2A win with the trophy Saturday at the Competitive Dance finals at U.S. Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington.
  Geneva celebrates their 2A win with the trophy Saturday at the Competitive Dance finals at U.S. Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington. - Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

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.

Stevenson High School performs Saturday during the Competitive Dance finals at U.S. Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington.
  Stevenson High School performs Saturday during the Competitive Dance finals at U.S. Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington. - Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

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."

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