Team: LHS dance
Coach: Maryann Porter
Assistant coaches: Elle Gustafson and Katelyn Buesgens
Conference: Minnesota River
Class/Section: Class A, Section 2
2013 finish: The Crusaders finished first or second in nearly every meet last season, which led to the team’s first ever conference high kick title. Mayer Lutheran finished second in the conference in jazz. It would be that jazz team that went on to place third at sections and qualify for the state meet. At state, the Crusaders finished 12th.
Key losses: All-Conference and All-State selections Kayla Wandersee and Kylie Zellmann are the only faces missing from this year’s team.
Key returnees: A benefit this season for LHS is the return of every non-graduated varsity dancer.
“We’re really fortunate that we have all our varsity members back from last year,” head coach Maryann Porter said.
A decorated group of returning athletes will bring valuable experience to the competition floor including senior Brittany Wilaby (All-Conference), junior Kaitlyn Bohach (All-Conference Honorable Mention, All-State), junior Maddie Bakken (All-Conference, All-State), junior Lauren Wisch, and sophomore Amanda Wade. Joining the varsity roster full-time this season is junior Erin Wandersee.
These six athletes will make up both the high kick and jazz teams. With all having varsity kick experience from last season, Porter said that knowledge has allowed the Crusaders to change up their routine.
“It’s allowed me to take a whole different approach to kick and I’m excited to see what the judges think,” she said.
Changes for 2013-14: Perhaps the biggest change for Mayer Lutheran this season is the reorganization of the section. With Aitkin and Duluth Marshall, two very dominant teams, no longer in the Crusaders’ section, Porter is excited to see how the teams shake out in the postseason, especially with the addition of two new programs in New Century Academy and Rockford in the mix.
Sections will be held at Bloomington Kennedy this year, run simultaneously with two Class AA section meets. Porter said the new “super sections” format will draw many more fans that LHS is used to seeing at the section meet, and will create a different atmosphere for the Crusaders.
“I think it’s going to feel very different this year,” she said, “but will help spotlight Class A.”
Teams to beat: With such a small conference of LHS, Belle Plaine, Jordan, and Norwood Young America, all three other teams are the ones to defeat if Mayer Lutheran hopes to defend its conference title.
“Last year it was competitive and that’s what I love about our conference, we all make each other better teams,” Porter said.
At the section level, Concordia Academy and PACT Charter are among the top teams Porter hopes to contend with, along with NYA Central.
Goals: The Crusaders first and foremost goal this season is to improve team unity, a crucial aspect when working with a six-member varsity squad.
Music selections: Mayer Lutheran has chosen to tip its hat to the kings of genres this season in the music selections. Rocking an Elvis mix for the high kick/precision category and an upbeat Michael Jackson mix for jazz, watching the Crusaders perform this season should be nothing short of fun.
“We’re saluting the king of pop and the king of rock and roll this year,” Porter said. “I think it’s important that they like what they [dance to].”
First meet: The Crusaders kick off the season at the Timberwolves Invitational on Dec. 7 at the Target Center, the same floor they competed on at state last season.
“Where we ended is where we’re picking ourselves back up,” Porter said.
The Crusaders will host the first MRC meet of the year on Dec. 19. Their annual invitational will be Saturday, Jan. 18. The invitational will be crucial for the Crusaders, according to Porter, as it is held just three weeks before sections and will feature many of the section teams. The invitational was complete with 12 teams before the season even began, Porter said, and was also the first invitational state-wide to be full.
Contact Melissa Marohl at [email protected]