Eastlake High School's dance team made campus history Saturday in Yakima by earning top honors at the state championships in the pom category, their coach said Monday.
"This was finally the year," Coach Corinne Immel said Monday, reflecting on previous competitions in which the team placed second in the category.
"The team decided this year in the summer that we really wanted to do everything in our power to get 1st place. We wanted to be that legacy team."
The 23-member squad competed in the 4/A state dance/drill championships sponsored by the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association. In the pom category, the squad also received a "superior" ranking with 468 points, according to WIAA results.
Other teams received either an "exceptional" or "excellent" ranking with respective scores in the lower 400s or 300s. Routines were 2 minutes 15 seconds, Immel said.
Eastlake also earned a 2nd place in the dance category, in which squad members wore blue outfits. The school placed 3rd in the kick event, in which students sported red-and-gold outfits.
The pom category emphasizes the visuals of pom poms as well as dance routine movements. The 21 students who participated in the pom event and wore tan-and-brown outifts were crisp and sharp in their routine, Immel said.
"The lines were perfect. They were dancing together," she said. "When they finished the routine, they had this look of, 'Oh, my gosh! We did it!' The parents couldn't control themselves. It was like nothing I've ever experienced in the last five years."
This season was different than others, partially because the team hired a choreographer to teach members new routines, Immel, who has coached for five years, said.
On Saturday, as Immel watched the team on the dance floor at the Yakima Valley SunDome, it was hard for her to spot any mistake. "They were prepared for it," she said, referring to the championships.
For the dance category, 18 members of the squad performed a modern, lyrical routine to interpret the music.
Saturday's state championships also marked the first time Eastlake’s dance team members took their kick routine to that level, Immel said. While the 17 members who participated in the kick category placed third, Immel said she was proud of their showing.
"We were over the moon," she said. "It's a hard routine to master. You have to have the cardio to complete the routine. You have to kick up to the ear."
The squad returned to Sammamish with two trophies from the event. But before they returned to the Plateau, they stopped off in Ellensburg to celebrate and mark a team tradition by eating fast food, she said.
"Their dedication and hard work and extra work outside of practice really just gave them the formula to succeed," Immel said. "It's never like any other team that I've had. They came together at the right time."
The dance team will hold tryouts in May for next season's squad. After that, team members will attend summer dance camp before they return for the next academic year to perform at football and basketball games and other campus events.