For the Superior Telegram
Superior High School is no longer a team divided in the world of dance.
For the first time in nearly a decade, the Spartans competed in just one state this season. Superior had previously competed in both Minnesota and Wisconsin.
“Minnesota rules and Wisconsin rules are so different we had to come up with a new routine (for each state),” said Laura Binsfeld, head coach of the SHS dance team.
When Superior was a member of the Lake Superior Conference, the team was forced to alternate between routines during the season to meet the requirements of each state. This year, however, the Spartans did not compete in the LSC.
The change came in the fall after Superior learned of a rule barring Wisconsin teams from competing in a Minnesota conference unless the sport is sanctioned by the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association. Dance teams in Wisconsin are currently sanctioned by the Wisconsin Association of Cheer/Pom Coaches.
Binsfeld said she knew about the conference change far enough in advance that it did not drastically impact Superior’s season schedule.
“It’s kind of a blessing in disguise that we get to focus on all Wisconsin competitions throughout the whole season rather than have that little (Minnesota) hiccup in there,” she said. “We had this same routine the whole season, which has never happened before.
“It’s been extremely helpful to be able to just focus on one thing and make more changes to this specific routine to make it the best it can be.”
The conference upheaval may actually have helped SHS maintain its high standards in the recent WACPC Western Regional dance competition.
Superior placed second of seven teams in the Kick Division to advance to state for the 11th consecutive year.
D.C. Everest won the kick title, Eau Claire North took third and New Richmond took fourth. All three teams are traditionally top contenders at the state level, which had Superior questioning its chances to advance.
“We’ve had free passes to state in the past, but this year we really fought for it,” said senior Kate Lisak, one of Superior’s three captains this season.
Superior is ranked ninth heading into the state competition, but Binsfeld believes the team can improve upon that rank by a few spots at Saturday’s meet.
“It’s very close, and every single point matters at state,” Binsfeld said. “I think if we play it right, we could bump up a few spots from there.”
Lisak, along with fellow captains Tianna Banks and Josie Goad, hopes to see the team place at least in the top five at the state meet. As seniors, their goal is to end their high school career with the best performance they’ve ever had.
“At regionals we had a goal to put our hearts out on the floor and dance like it was our last time, and since this really will be our last time, I think everyone is going to push themselves even harder,” Banks said.
A state sendoff for the Spartan dance team will be held at 7:40 a.m. today in the SHS gym. The event is free and open to the public.
The state competition will be held Saturday in La Crosse.
Members of the SHS state competition team are: Claudia Androsky, Banks, Skylar Barber, Becca Barnes, Elisa Blank, Goad, Abby Johnson, London Jonassen, Kelly Larson, Lisak, Naomi McLennon, Hayley Olson, Marin Peterson, Katelyn Prochnow, Alyssa Roach, Skylar Rogge and Janae Widiker.
Red, white and blue
The Spartans have received high marks for their kick routine all season. At their first competition, in Menomonie, Superior received judges’ choice awards for favorite routine and favorite theme of the day. They also received multiple 10s on their score sheets, which Binsfeld said is difficult to accomplish.
Superior’s routine this year is distinctive, and the difference begins with their costumes.
Most Wisconsin teams reuse costumes from year to year, and every member of the team wears the same design.
Superior has two designs this year. Both have white backs, but one set has red in the front and the other has blue.
“It was really fun doing choreography because we got to play with the patterns, move the colors around and really be creative coming up with ways to use the costumes on the floor,” Binsfeld said.
The red, white and blue costumes also tie in to Superior’s patriotic theme. The dance team performs to a patriotic mix, and USA chants and an American flag feature in the dance.
Banks, who has the flag incorporated into the sleeve of her costume, keeps it hidden until a big reveal for the finale.
The Spartans have had military veterans thank them after their performance. On one occasion, they noticed men and women standing with their hands on their hearts when the dance had ended.
“I tell the girls before very single performance, we’re not just dancing for our seniors, we’re dancing for our veterans, we’re dancing for the people overseas, the people who have lost their lives,” Banks said. “We’re not dancing just for us anymore.”
Goad added that this year’s team is the most talented she’s ever seen, with multiple dancers highlighted in solo roles. Each athlete is dedicated to doing her best, she said, because the theme of the dance is important.
“Everyone knows at least someone who has served in some way,” Goad said. “Dance is not just competing; it’s an art form where you tell a story. And so it’s easier to perform well when you’re actually able to tell a story.”