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Cavalettes take state in Dance/Drill

The young ladies from Clackamas save their best for last, as they finish in front of top teams from Parkrose, David Douglas and Putnam
by: Molly MaAnulty, Clackamas High School Cavalettes express the sadness of breaking up in dance as part of their winning routine at the State Dance/Drill Championships.

PORTLAND - The Clackamas Cavalettes saved their best performances of the year for last Wednesday and Thursday and it paid huge dividends, as it earned them the championship trophy from Show Division of the 2007 State Dance/Drill Championships.

'We'd performed this routine in four previous competitions, but we'd never won before,' said Clackamas coach Jessica Elliott. 'They did it where it counted, which was at state.'

The Cavalettes, Clackamas High School's dance team, were the clear winners, as they finished well in front of the competition.

'We knew we had a chance [to win], but nothing was certain,' said Cavalette team co-captain Lindsay DeHackbeil. 'Putnam, Parkrose and David Douglas were huge competition. We could have just as easily gotten fourth, because the competition was so tight.'

The Cavalettes won with a score of 89.8. Parkrose (88.7), David Douglas (87.9) and the two-time defending state champion Rex Putnam Royal Crowns (86.1) placed second, third and fourth respectively.

Elliott said she was especially proud of her dancers because they won with a routine that was very difficult to perform.

'The routine is about a break-up and it requires the girls to show four emotions -happiness, longing, sadness and anger - through dance, which isn't easy to do,' said Elliott.

'Another difficulty in our routine was we had 21 panels of varying sizes,' said Elliott. 'The girls were dancing solos, where they couldn't see each other, with slow and fast tempo. They couldn't see each other, but they had to be synchronized.

'They had to know the routine backwards and forwards.'

The multi-sided panels were colored blue, purple and pink, and the dancers changed the color visible to the audience and judges to reflect changes in mood.

The routine was performed to the song 'Hide and Seek,' by Imogen Heap.

The dancers wore yellow-green tank tops and shorts with a sheer leg on one side. They wore a flower in their hair, which was pulled back in a bun.

Angela Koh, a senior at Clackamas High, designed the costumes. Michelle Binder was the seamstress.

Assistant coaches Stacey Silva, Kurt Jull and Brandy Guthery choreographed the number.

'The girls were just outstanding both nights,' said Elliott. 'As a coach, I couldn't have asked for more.

'This was a special group of girls. They were the hardest working kids I've ever had, and they're all friends.'

'Clackamas [dance teams] have always been close,' said DeHackbeil. 'But this team was really close - more than any other team I've been on. We're all really good friends. We did things together, like sleepovers and going to the movies as a team, and I think it made our team stronger. We just wanted to hang out and have fun together.'

Elliott said the girls spent a great deal of time together outside of practice, reviewing videos of their performances and figuring out what they needed to do to make a better impression on the judges.

'This was my first state championship, and I wouldn't have wanted it with any other team,' said Elliott. 'This is definitely a championship team. They are amazing kids!'

DeHackbeil said that she and her teammates knew they had won when the judges announced Parkrose as the runner-up, but that it was still a thrill when the Cavaliers' music was played during the awards ceremony.

'They play your music to announce the [state champion],' said DeHackbeil. 'Our music begins with [the singer taking] a breath. We knew we'd won, but it was still a great feeling to finally hear that breath. We'd been waiting to hear it all season.'

Sammi Colton, Lindsey Hood, Shay Keeler, Amy Parnell and Christie Sowards were team captains with DeHackbeil.

The captains excelled as individuals, as well as members of the Cavalette team.

Colton, DeHackbeil and Hood were named to the 31-girl 6A/5A All-State Team, along with Oregon City senior Brittany Fine and Putnam seniors Ashley Fullerton and Courtney Goe.

DeHackbeil, Hood, Oregon City seniors Kylee Kastelic and Renee Lynn raked in additional honors, placing first, second, fourth and sixth respectively out of some 200 girls competing in the drill down.

Members of the Cavalettes' state championship team included: seniors Colton, DeHackbeil, Hood, Keeler, Parnell, Sowards, Breanna Barlow and Brittany Johnson; juniors Melissa Berry, Allie Gavette, Kayla Krska, Morgan Munro, Ashlee Naranjo, Hayley Reinauer, Samantha Richards and Jessica Winnett;

sophomores Erin Charlton, Jill Denney, Devan Gray, Holly Hayes, Kayla Hedwall and Kathleen O'Connell; and freshmen Hayley Martin, Meagan McLafferty, Sarah Mullany, Ally Noble, Baily Ring and Monika Steinhauer.

Sue Anne Williams and Jessica Miller helped coach the team.

It was Clackamas' first state dance/drill championship since 1997 and the Cavalettes' fourth state title in the last 20 years. The Cavalettes were also state champions in 1987 and 1995.

The West Linn Debutantes and Oregon City Jets placed sixth and ninth respectively in the Show Division.

The Gladstone Gladettes won fourth place in the 4A Dance Division; the Lakeridge Pacers and Milwaukie Pony Prancers placed fourth and fifth respectively in 6A Small Division Dance; Lake Oswego placed third in the 6A Large Division Dance.

Gladstone senior Melyssa Milano was named to the 11-member 4A/3A/2A/1A All-State Team. Gladstone junior Danielle Kelley was fourth in 4A/3A/2A/1A drill down.

The dance/drill championships were held Wednesday through Saturday at Portland Memorial Coliseum and at the University of Portland's Chiles Center.