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New Richmond dance team takes fifth at state championships

The New Richmond High School dance team that performed at state includes (front, l-r) Jensen Hagen, Molly O'Brien, Megan Chelberg, Kailah Hartung and Mattie Post; (middle) Harley Leavens, Christian Weaver, Emma Bakke, Deidre Cuno and Kaylynn Elkin; (back) Paris Johnson, Alexis Anderson, Erin Earley, Coach Ali Saliny, Chloe Fankhauser and Courtney Langer. 1 / 2
Somerset’s Gabrielle (Gabbie) Vogel is pictured with Spartan assistant coach Tara Montgomery at the state championships. 2 / 2

It was a truly successful trip to the Wisconsin Association of Cheer/Pom Coaches 2014 State Championships for the New Richmond and Somerset high school dance teams.

New Richmond’s dance team was able to place fifth among 16 teams in the Division 2 Pom state competition.

Both New Richmond and Somerset were able to have dancers earn all-state honors for their individual dance performances. New Richmond senior Megan Chelberg and Somerset freshman Gabrielle (Gabbie) Vogel were named to the WACPC All-State Teams, Chelberg in Division 1 and Vogel in Division 2.

New Richmond moved up to Division 2 in the WACPC competition this year, based on school size. New Richmond coach Ali Saliny said this move is a big difference because the larger schools have more students to draw from. Saliny said the Tigers normally have 15-20 girls on their team, but there are no limits on how many girls can be involved in a performance. This year the Tigers had 15 girls on their team.

“Every division has great teams. In Division 1 and Division 2, the teams just continue to get better,” Saliny said.

Saliny said the fifth place finish was outstanding for the competition that was faced.

“We were a force to be reckoned with and placed very well. The judges made great comments about our choreography and how it really helped set us apart from other teams,” Saliny said.

Being precise is what sets teams apart in competitions of this magnitude. The Tigers have worked on the same routine all season to have it perfected for the state meet.

“They could do it in their sleep,” Saliny said. “They know every beat of the song. It’s like a football playbook.”

The Tigers also performed in the Kick competition at state, but didn’t make the top five in that Division 2 event.

Chelberg was one of three Tigers to compete individually for all-state honors, along with juniors Jensen Hagen and Kailah Hartung. While Hartung and Hagen weren’t among the 12 girls who received all-state honors, Saliny said it was a great experience for them and it sets them up well to try competing for all-state honors again next year. Saliny said all three Tigers choreographed their own routines that earned them the chance to compete at state.

This is the second straight year that Chelberg has earned all-state honors. Chelberg’s strength and athletic ability show in her dance performances.

“Dancers are some of the strongest athletes out there,” Saliny said. “Megan’s always been very dedicated. She’s very passionate about dancing.”

Vogel is the first Somerset dancer to earn the chance to compete for all-state honors. This is Somerset’s third year with a dance program.  Somerset assistant coach Tara Montgomery choreographed the routine that Vogel performed at state. She performed a contemporary/jazz routine to an instrumental arrangement.

“Her hard work, love for dance, sheer talent and unwavering dedication allowed her to succeed at a state level. She had her personal best performance at State, and we couldn’t be more proud of her achievements,”  Montgomery said.

Dave Newman

Dave Newman has been the sports editor at the New Richmond News since 1988. He has covered the action in the Middle Border Conference, Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Big Rivers Conference for more than 30 years.

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