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Sparkles take fourth at state

Coach Rachel Searcy is proud of girls’ season, performance at state

by: ANDREW MATHESON/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - The Crook County Sparkles danced their way to a fourth-place finish at the 2007 OSAA Dance and Drill state championships held at the Memorial Coliseum in Portland this past weekend. Coach Rachel Searcy felt the team danced the best they had all season.

PORTLAND - The Crook County Sparkles' bid for a Class 5A Small division state championship came up short on Saturday night, but nonetheless, the team is pleased with their season and performance at the state meet.
   The Sparkles dance team, ranked No. 2 in the Class 5A Small division entering the state championships, earned their ranking from performances in Sprague and Woodburn, and sat less than one point behind top-ranked Lebanon.
   At state, which took place at the Memorial Coliseum in Portland on Friday and Saturday, the squad's combined two-day, 76-point performance placed them fourth overall out of 12 teams in the end.
   "They did awesome - they did better than any other time they've danced all season," Sparkles Coach Rachel Searcy said. "They were up against some really tough teams, too...They brought their A-plus game, and they did better than I hoped."
   Searcy explained that at state, new judges are brought in that have not viewed the performances before. So, although the Sparkles entered the state championship with a No. 2-ranking, all the dance teams perform with a clean slate.
   "I was hoping just to place," Searcy said, as only the top five teams place at state. "You never know with state. It's judges that don't normally (judge) our regular competitions, so you just have no idea."
   Lebanon took the state championship on Saturday with 81.8 points, with Marshfield (81.6) and Churchill (78) nabbing second and third place finishes, respectively. Ashland (72) took fifth place, rounding out the state placers.
   Searcy said that it was difficult to tell what exactly the judges were looking for, as all the teams that placed had completely different routines. However, Lebanon's routine was slightly longer than Crook County's, and that may be a route Searcy would consider for next year.
   But Searcy added that this year's squad was the most well-prepared squad she's coached. "There was no one that hesitated on their movements with the choreography," she said. "They knew it by muscle memory, so they didn't necessarily have to think about it."
   With close to 300 girls in the Class 5A/6A divisions, the Sparkles also claimed their first all-state selection in Crook County's 14-year history when senior Bethany Verdusco was named to the 19-girl team.
   "The 5A and the 6A came together, and they pick all-state from those two divisions," Searcy said. "And she's the first from Crook County to ever, in the history of the dance team, make all-state. The dance team has been competing since 1994, and she's the first-ever."
   In fact, Verdusco was one of only four members from the Class 5A Small division that were selected to all-state.
   The Sparkles qualified for state after two strong performances in Woodburn and Sprague. At the Spring Fling in Woodburn, the Sparkles earned 77.1 points, and upped that performance with an 81.4-point showing at the Sprague Competition in South Salem.
   Searcy thanked all the parent, school and community support, as well as High Desert Dance Arts, where all of the Sparkles are involved in classes at the dance studio.
   "They made me cry," Searcy said of her team, "and I haven't cried all year."