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Decatur dance team adds more national championships to trophy case
The Decatur High School dance team has turned into somewhat of a dynasty. The Gators just keep racking up titles, including their second-straight USA championship at the 2013 Dance/Drill Nationals.
We work our butts off to win, and that's exactly what we did," said head coach Lindsay Starr, who is a graduate of Decatur. "We always kept the end in mind."
The Gators brought home three national titles from the USA Nationals, which were held March 29-30 inside the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa, Calif.
Decatur won the USA championships in the Kick, Small Military and Medium Military divisions in California.
"The girls were going crazy as they continued to call out, 'And your national champions is Decatur High School,'" said Carol Edmonson, who is the dance team advisor. "It was fabulous and so exciting for them."
Last year, the Gators won a national title in the Open Division Prop category and also finished second in the Open Medium Military category.
The three national awards came just a week after Decatur rolled to a pair of state titles March 22 at the 2013 WIAA 1A/2A/3A State Dance/Drill Championships inside the Yakima Valley SunDome. The Gators won the Kick Division title, as well as the Military Division.
It's the same division championships Decatur won a season ago in Yakima. The Gators racked up 279.8 points in the Kick Division to outdistance second-place Hanford (274.6). In Military, Decatur finished with 264.5 points to beat out Hazen (258.7). The Gators also added a second-place finish in the 3A Pom Division.
The success of the Decatur dance team is no fluke. The girls practice five to six days a week year-round, including twice a day on weekends. The practices sometime last six to eight hours, according to Starr.
Tryouts begin in May and runs through the summer and the full school year. The Gators perform at school events, among other things, and hold a community dance camp for elementary students every fall.
"I have to say, being a part of this team in high school when we were the worst team in the state and then taking over the program and watching it turn into one of the best programs in the state has got to be the best feeling ever," Starr said.
This year's Gator team includes Jenny Ko (captain), Autum Hopkins, Shani Wrenn, Lincoln Pothan, Kendyle Dayley, Angelica Farley, Isabella Akana, Paige Lewin, Kylie Seo, Mariah Luce, Mikaela Smith, Taylore Dominique, Julia Lee, Yesugen Battsengel, Amanda Lyons, Briana Cousey, Taylor Greig, Mariah Hill and Casey Rivera.
For the second time during her 12-year career at Decatur, Starr received the 1A/2A/3A WIAA Coach of the Year award for the entire state of Washington.
But Starr is leaving the program to move to California to be with her husband, who is stationed there with the Navy.
"She just remained separated from him to finish out this season," Edmonson said. "Her dedication to this team and program is unprecedented."
"I have given my life to this program and at the end of the day, I can say that after the countless first-place trophies, eight district titles, four state titles, four national titles and two coach of the year awards, that this is by far the best years of my life and I wouldn't trade any of these memories for anything in the world," Starr said.