For second time in five years, Reynolds' Raider Dancers capture state champiionship with emotionally charged performance and technical excellence
by: John Klicker, Senior Missy Lawler, center, does a double-stag jump at the state dance competition. Lawler was one of two Reynolds High School seniors to make all-state. The other was Brooke Shelley.

For three years, Reynolds High School senior Missy Lawler could almost taste it. The Raider Dancers, who have placed in the top three at state the past seven years, were known for being one of the teams to beat at the annual OSAA championship.

But for Lawler and the five other seniors on the team, the trophy had narrowly escaped their grasp. The dance team instead celebrated second place, then third, then second again.

But one sweet night last week - Thursday, March 15 - at Memorial Coliseum, the girls waited, united in a huddle, for the winning music to erupt from the speakers. When Crossfade's 'Cold' finally played, the girls were ecstatic. All their sweat, hard work, and the five three-hour practices a week had all been worth it.

The Raider Dancers were state champs.

Coach Holly Holbert credits the team's fighting spirit for the win.

'Everyone's heart was into it this year,' she said. 'Every one of the girls really wanted it. They were really fighters.'

The team danced a five-minute performance to the theme, 'Forgiven,' a subject that resonated with the team.

'There was a lot of heartbreak this year for these girls,' Holly said. 'We sat around in a circle and played the songs and talked about what they made us feel.'

Part of what dance teams are judged on is projection, or the emotion and artistry the team brings to the performance.

For Lawler, who will perform with a hip-hop group and the Northwest Dance Company this summer and try out for the University of Oregon dance team in the fall, the routine is an emotional outlet.

'That's what I like about dance,' she said. 'Once you learn that routine, it becomes automatic. Then you can put all your emotion into doing it and just really express yourself.'

Lawler was one of two seniors, the other was Brooke Shelley, who made All-State at the competition. Both were captains on the team, as was senior Jessica Kennedy, who won fifth place in the drill down competition.

The team, which had 17 members this year, provides a training ground for personal as well as athletic pursuits, Holly said.

'We have rules,' she said. 'There's structure, discipline, the girls have to be on time. They have to be ladies at competitions, they have to sit with their legs crossed. No stomachs can show, even at practice. We're trying to grow young women.'

But for the dancers, the night of the state competition, only one emotion rose to the surface when their song was played - joy.

'When we heard that music,' Missy said, 'it was just awesome.'

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