Lake Zurich, York win state dance titles; Geneva second, Montini third
Even laryngitis could not keep Terri Johlie from screaming. As she watched her students put on what turned out to be a state championship-winning performance, the coach of Lake Zurich's competitive dance squad cheered until she pretty much lost her voice.
"You forget about that, and you've got your adrenaline going, and you're in the moment," Johlie said. "I am so proud of what our girls did."
Lake Zurich defeated Geneva by a gut-wrenchingly small four-tenths of a point on Saturday to win the IHSA's division 2A title at the state championships in Bloomington. The Bears used a hip-hop-style dance, and several coaches said this was the first time a hip-hop routine won first at an IHSA state meet.
"We just stuck with what we felt we were best at," Johlie said of the gable they staked their season on. "What made this such a crowd-pleaser was that it was a total performance, rather than just a routine. We wanted to have something on the floor that was completely different from what people are used to, and that's what we accomplished."
Several other suburban teams brought home hardware as well:
• York Community High School in Elmhurst won the 3A division title, followed by Maine South in second and Stevenson High School in third.
• Montini Catholic in Lombard took third in division 1A.
• Back in division 2A, Lake Forest took third, behind Lake Zurich and the 2017 champions, Geneva.
"I am proud of the performance my team gave," said a crestfallen Amy Van Wagenen, the coach at Geneva. "I think what my girls did was exceptional."
At Montini Catholic, coach Eugenia Scavone was "ecstatic" about taking third. Her team employed the pom-dance style, and earned the highest finish of the few schools in division 1A that used poms.
"There's so much talent at IHSA, and we were so happy to be among the best," Scavone said.
Stevenson could not defend its 2017 division 3A title, but coach Kristin Piekarski said her athletes were "beyond excited" anyway.
"We knew it was going to be a challenge to repeat the state title, so we were just grateful to be among the best," she said.
The IHSA began offering a competitive dance championship in 2013; its rules call for a single category, in which lyrical, contemporary, jazz, hip-hop, pom and other varieties all go against each other. Van Wagenen lamented that the judges must find ways to compare such divergent techniques.
"Every year, the talent level in our division goes up," she said.
Johlie agreed. She said she understood how close she came to going back to Lake Zurich with a sore throat and a second-place trophy.
"It can always go another way with something like this," Johlie said. "So this is incredible."