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Rhinelander Dance Continues Dominance
By Student Writer - Connor Kuczmarski | Published: 02/28/2013

The Rhinelander High School dance team poses after winning its fourth consecutive national championship Sunday in Minneapolis. (Submitted photo)

     Four straight national titles. No, we aren’t talking about Alabama college football or Iowa Hawkeye wrestling but something much closer to home.

For the fourth consecutive year the Rhinelander High School dance team won a national title in Division 2 Hip Hop at the Dance Xtreme USA Americup Nationals held in Minneapolis on Feb. 22-24.

“We started off the year amazing and finished with a national title,” senior captain Kirsten Lotz said. “I’d say it was a very successful year for RHS dance.”

Being a senior, Lotz has had a role in every single one of the programs four consecutive national titles. Joined by seniors Marilla McKay, Angela Towne, and Kelly Lee, Lotz finished her career where she started — on top.

The Rhinelander dancers arrived in Minneapolis Feb. 22 and were able to enjoy themselves before observing other teams perform at the Minneapolis Convention Center the next morning. Following the observation period, the girls’ went to a gala, a formal dinner outing and awards ceremony for the dancers to enjoy.

RHS head coach Tricia Winter was named one of the top five finalists for “National Coach of the Year” during the gala. Senior captain Kelly Lee was also a finalist for the “Distinguished Leader” award.

“We got to dress up, eat a very good dinner and watch some dance solos,” Lotz said. “We also watched a professional acrobatic routine. It was amazing.”

     The girls’ were also able to take part in a small dance following the award ceremony that was open to all teams. The ladies then laced up their shoes Sunday morning to determine whether a four-peat was in their future.

Winter, assisted by Shavon Conner and Bailey Welch, prepared the girls for the day and the team commuted to the convention center, reporting bright and early before 8 a.m. The team proceeded to take third place in the Division 2 kick routine competition, before clinching the title in Division 2 hip hop.

Following the competition the girls’ again headed to an awards ceremony, where they were presented with the hardware to signify their longstanding dominance over their competition. The ladies also received an academic award, as the team’s cumulative GPA is 3.0 or higher.

“It just felt amazing,” Lotz said. “We loaded the suburbans shortly after the award ceremony and headed home with our fourth first place national title. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to end my career.”

The work started a long time ago for the talented team. Preparation for the year begins in May, pacing through the entire year until the final competition in February. Lotz spoke about the dedication and work ethic shown by her team throughout the year, which helped guide them toward an unprecedented fourth national title.

“This year we started out with an amazing turnout at tryouts,” Lotz replied. “After tryouts the team consisted of 18 girls. We start practicing for the fourth of July parade and halftime shows at football games before switching over to competition. It gets very hectic.”

This year the competition portion of the season ran from December to February. The ladies took part in two exhibition tournaments in Wausau and Stevens Point. The team performed a hip hop routine choreographed by team members and Winter, and a kick routine created by Welch. The team took second in Division 2 hip hop at their regional tournament, and finished in sixth place at state. The girls were just 10 points from third place at the state level, while the seventh place team looked up at the Hodags by an astonishing 26-point margin.

The Hodags automatically qualified for nationals as the reigning national champion. The dancers performed well enough at an exhibition competition to get the bid in 2009 when they won their first title.

“We started preparing early for nationals because we already knew we were going to go,” Lotz said. “Each year we win first place we get a bid the following season. That is why we have gone the last four years.”

Lotz said plenty goes on behind the scenes to make sure the team gets to nationals.

“Tricia and Kari Massey have to figure out payment for everything and make sure we raised enough money,” Lotz said. “We asked local businesses around town to give us contributions to sponsor our national trip. If a business contributed $100 or more we bought them a national competition T-shirt with their company name on the back as a thank you.”

With another incredible year in the history books, it leaves one to ponder what else could the team possibly accomplish. Is a half decade of dominance in the cards for the Rhinelander Dance team? Time will tell.

Hodag Sports Library
01/20/2015 RHS Dance Team Take Home 2nd place
11/19/2014 RHS Sporting Events Cancelled and Rescheduled
09/22/2014 Rhinelander High School 2014 Homecoming
06/05/2014 GNC All-Conference Baseball and Softball Teams Announced
05/28/2014 Hodag Fastpitch defeats Marshfield in regionals
05/27/2014 Rhinelander High School Dance Team Holds Year End Banquet
03/20/2014 Students get schooled by Staff
03/13/2014 RHS Key Club to Host Annual Students vs. Faculty Basketball Game
03/05/2014 The All-GNC Teams Announced
02/26/2014 RHS Dance Team Does Well at DX Americup

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