Dance takes third at conference


Maria Echeverry

Freshman Gracie Chambers leaps across the floor during the dance team’s routine on Jan. 28. The team’s first place performance was choreographed to Lady Gaga’s “Americano.”

The Baker University dance team competed at the Heart of America Athletic Conference Competitive Cheer and Dance Championships on Feb. 3 at Grand View University.

The dance team placed third overall, finishing with 73.71 points behind Grand View and Avila. Avila has taken the top spot at the past five Heart competitions.

Three Baker dancers earned all-conference honors. Juniors Allie Howland and Alison Prather and sophomore Alyssa Monson were named to the Heart All-Conference dance team. All three of these dancers were named 2017 NAIA All-Americans, and Howland and Prather both earned the title in 2016 as well.

Howland was especially pleased with the honor.

“I felt privileged to even be considered for the award, let alone receive it,” Howland said. “I’ve been dancing my whole life, so I appreciate the recognition.”

Prather was surprised with the honor as well.

“I didn’t even know I had been nominated for the award by my coach, so I was very surprised and humbled that she saw the qualifications of an All-American athlete in me,” Prather said.

The team is hoping to make it back to the NAIA National Dance Championship again this year, where the team placed third last year with 85.78 points. To qualify for nationals, each dance team’s scores from the season are averaged together, with the top 12 teams qualifying for nationals.

“We hope to keep improving with every competition,” Howland said. “We’re applying critiques from judges from previous competitions and making any necessary changes to better the dance.”

The dance team will compete in a dual with Central Methodist University, a dual with Benedictine College and the Southeast Regional competition this month to prepare before the national championship.

“We’re finding ways to make the dance feel new and fresh to keep our passion up every time we step on the floor to perform it,” Prather said.

If the Wildcats qualify for nationals, they will travel to Oklahoma City University on March 9-10.