by: JAMES MCGREW The Lake Oswego High School dance team claims its championship trophy at state competition in Portland’s Memorial Coliseum.

At approximately 11 p.m. on Thursday, March 17, the Lake Oswego High School dance team, with fingers inter-locked and heads down in anticipation, heard the first beat of their music over the loud speakers of the Memorial Coliseum announcing the win of their first place state championship title.

'There are no words that describe the feeling I felt when I knew we had won,' said senior captain Kristin Day. 'It was like the culmination of everything we had been working for since our first year on the team. It was a dream come true.'

The entire season was a success for the dancers. The team not only traveled across the nation to compete at the Universal Dance Association National Dance Team Championship in Orlando, Fla., but the team also had an undefeated season here in Oregon.

They finished first place in both their fall jazz and hip-hop routines at the Clackamas High School competition qualifying them for the Oregon Dance and Drill Coaches Association Fall Championship that was held in December. There the team took first in the state for both the large varsity jazz and large varsity hip-hop divisions.

On March 5, the Laker Dancers competed with their state routine for the first time during the traditional dance and drill season. They placed first at the Metro Dance Festival at Centennial High School and qualified for the second round of the OSAA Dance and Drill State Championships.

Held at the Memorial Coliseum in Portland on Wednesday, March 16, and Thursday, March 17, the dancers brought home their fourth state title. It was the first championship win for the team since 2006.

'I am so proud of what we have accomplished this year with such a young team,' said senior captain, Annelise Cook. 'First, making a return to nationals, and now winning the state title I've been working for since freshman year. I couldn't ask for a better way to end the journey.'

Wearing white dresses, rhinestone armbands and sparkling headbands, the girls danced to a Celine Dion cover of Aretha Franklin's '(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman.' Choreographed by head coaches Kendall Shepherd, Hayley DuLong and two choreographers from Minnesota, Toni Gabrielli and Stacey Weyendt, the team received some of the highest choreography scores they have ever had.

'I knew this would be our year,' said DuLong. 'We had the right song, the right formations, the right choreography. But most importantly we had the right team. They were beautiful. Kendall and I couldn't be more proud of them.'

'Before we took the stage, I knew the girls were ready. I could see it in their eyes,' said Shepherd. 'We circled up and Hayley and I told them that all (they) needed to do was to execute what (they) had practiced for, for so long - to dance from their hearts for the seniors, coaches, their families, friends and selves. But most importantly to dance for the girl next to them who, too, had practiced countless hours, who put in the same sweat, tears, injury, pain and perseverance. If they did that, they could do it. And we did.'

This year's captains are seniors: Annelise Cook, Kristin Day, Maggie Gerwe and Meghan Oliva.

Members include: Meredith Dana, Alexandra LaCesa, Morgan Nantz, Samantha Liebreich, Bailey Bass, Erica Li, Kayla Todd, Katherine Dunham, Kathryn Bergevin, Sophie Blauer, Jacqueline McGrew, Julia Moreland, Kendall Peddie, Lisa Smith, Abigail Varnum and Taylor Yob.

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