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Local dancers are all standouts

Junior Pacers win first place in state, Junior Lakers take second

SUBMITTED PHOTO - Junior Pacer dancers land first place at state championship.Lakeridge Junior Pacers leapt into first place at the Oregon Junior Dance Team Championships on Saturday — and Lake Oswego Junior Lakers whirled into second.

The Dance and Drill Coaches Association of Oregon hosted the event at Southridge High School in Beaverton, where 12 individual local dancers also were honored as standouts on their teams. Local dancers walked away with almost half of the individual standout honors.

SUBMITTED PHOTO - Junior Lakers spin away with second place.

The Junior Pacer girls performed to the plaintive ballad “Human,” with vocals by songstress Christina Perri. The dancers’ hard work earned them 57.3 points.

“To be honest, I’m shocked and humbled,” Junior Pacer Coach Ashley Nordlum says. “Our division was by far one of the most talented I had seen in a long time.”

Parent Christine Samwick says the victory was special to the seven-member team.

“They’re a small team; they’re very close,” Samwick says. “You could tell they really wanted to win it for one another.”SUBMITTED PHOTO - Junior Pacers get ready to wow the crowd.

The Junior Lakers moved to the intense notes of alternative band Florence and the Machine’s “Howl,” receiving a score of 55.6, less than two points away from the champions.

“We have 16 girls on our team, and half of them had never danced before this year, so to place that high in the state championships was truly incredible,” Junior Laker Coach Laura Shepherd says. “This was the first year coaching for me and my assistant coach, Lacey Lydell, so that made it even more special for us.”

Local standouts included Junior Pacer eighth-graders Lauren Richards and Sydney Utech.

“One of my best friends on the team, Sydney, is a really strong dancer, so I thought she was going to get (the standout recognition), and when she did, I was really excited,” Lauren says. “And when I heard my name, I just was really proud and really excited to be up there with her.”SUBMITTED PHOTO - Dancers honored as standouts include Junior Pacer eighth-graders Sydney Utech (left) and Lauren Richards.SUBMITTED PHOTO - Standout dancers include Junior Laker sixth-graders (from left) Misaki Tanabe, Suki Elliot, and Olivia Kovac.

Sydney says of Lauren, “I think she’s amazing, too. I was really, really excited because it was such a big honor for me, especially for it being my last year” in junior high.

Junior Laker sixth-grader Ali Hoevet says she looks up to the eighth-grade dancers.

“I improved a lot because once I looked up to them, I could see the things I couldn’t do as well and change them,” Ali says.SUBMITTED PHOTO - Lakeridge Junior High team poses during a photo shoot.

Judges also honored three Junior Lakers as standouts at the event: sixth-graders Suki Elliot, Olivia Kovac and Misaki Tanabe. Olivia was thrilled to be recognized.

“I was really excited and really surprised because this is my first year of dance,” Olivia says. “I was really happy. It made me feel good.”

Her mom, Melanie Kovac, says she and her husband were so proud to watch the dancers showcase all of their hard-earned skills.

“We were just beaming; we were laughing,” Melanie Kovac says. “It was just joy. It was a joyful time.”

Suki says she is happy with the team’s performance.

“I think we all tried our very hardest,” Suki says.SUBMITTED PHOTO - Junior Lakers beam with pride over their accomplishments.

By Jillian Daley
503-636-1281, ext. 109
email: jdaley@lakeoswegoreview.com
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