Team: Mayer Lutheran dance
Head coach: Maryann Porter
Ass’t coach: Elle Gustafson
Conference: Minnesota River
Captains: Kayla Wandersee and Kylie Zellmann
2011-12 finish: After picking up multiple wins and second place finishes, the 2011-12 season led to a Minnesota River conference title in jazz, a third place finish in both divisions at the section level, and a trip to state. At the state competition, the Crusaders competed in Class A, finishing seventh in jazz and tenth in high kick.
Key losses: Last season saw the departure of three All-Conference and All-State athletes in Rachel Kemnitz, Lindsay Pallas, and Haley Wolf.
Key returnees: All-Conference and All-State athlete Kayla Wandersee returns to this year’s team as a senior, along with fellow senior Kylie Zellmann, and both will captain the Crusaders. Sophomore Maddie Bakken also returns as a varsity team member.
Newcomers/Prospects: The Crusaders have added many new faces to their varsity teams. Mayer Lutheran will have ten dancers on the high kick team and seven in jazz.
Led by Wandersee, Zellmann, and Bakken, other high kick dancers will include juniors Lindsay Janke and Brittany Wilaby, sophomores Kaitlyn Bohach, Mackenzie Thiesfeld, Lauren Wisch, and Erin Wandersee, and freshman Amanda Wade.
The jazz team will be made of Kayla Wandersee, Zellmann, Wilaby, Bakken, Bohach, Wisch, and Wade.
Teams to beat: In the small MRC dance conference, all three other teams – Jordan, Belle Plaine, and NYA – are teams to beat. The Crusaders will then jump from one of the smallest conferences to the largest Class A section, with 17 teams including Aitkin and Duluth Marshall, two teams that have dominated competition in the past and are expected to do so again this season, according to Porter.
Goals: Beyond defending their 2011 conference jazz title, the Crusaders, of course, would like a return trip to state. Porter said the team is already further in routine development and strength than it was at this time last year. The Crusaders will also be working to continue their tradition of good sportsmanship and exchange between dance teams.
First meet: The Crusaders will kick off Dec. 8 at Albany. They will host the conference championships on Jan. 17, as well as their home invitational Jan. 19.