Months of rehearsal and practice paid off in a big way Saturday in Orem as the South Sevier High School drill team earned its fourth consecutive state title.
The Sensations earned first place with their military and kick routines, paving the way to an overall title. In the dance category, the Sensations came in second behind a very strong team from South Summit.
“We had a really good feeling going into it,” said coach Kelli Barton.
The night before the competition there is a semifinals exhibition, which was broken up into four pods. The top two teams from each pod then competed Saturday.
The Sensations competed against American Leadership, San Juan and Gunnison Valley Friday night.
Saturday, the eight teams that remained in the 2A competition included the Sensations as well as North Summit, South Summit, Emery, Manti, Gunnison, Kanab and North Sevier.
The Sensations topped the bracket, followed by South Summit, Manti, Kanab and Emery, respectively.
“It felt like this year was more competitive,” Barton said. “We knew we had to be near perfect.”
Barton said the first night of competition was a good opportunity to work out any last minute mistakes or spacing on the dance floor.
“It was great practice for the next day,” Barton said.
The work ethic was key to this year’s championship, Barton said. The team had six seniors on board — freshmen when the Sensations’ current state championship streak began.
“There are not many people who can say they were part of four state champion teams,” Barton said. The seniors — Marnee Anderson, Starsha Clark, Ashlyn Hessey, Whitney Keele, McKayla Rydalch and Kahlill Smith — also help perpetuate a culture of success for the Sensations.
“Our seniors provided good leadership,” Barton said. She said the seniors understood what it takes to win, and led by example in all the year’s performances and practices.
Rydalch was also named to the academic all-state team.
Keele, Hessey and Smith were named to the all-state team.
In addition to winning on the floor, the Sensations were also awarded the sportsmanship award, which is voted on by peer teams.
“I’m so proud of my girls,” Barton said. “They really deserve it because they are the nicest girls … they’re very encouraging and positive.”
Even though competition can be intense, Barton said the Sensations squad made an effort to cheer on the other teams as they performed.
South Sevier’s coaching staff also includes Shauna Blake and Tiffany Moore.
“They worked so hard,” Barton said.
The Sensations now have a total of eight state drill team titles — all won since 2007.