Dance earns at-large bid to nationals


Alex Fortuna

The Baker dance team performs their routine at the 2018 NAIA Southeast Regional competition in Collins Center. Baker was in first place after the preliminary round, and took third overall.

The dance team qualified for the 2018 NAIA Competitive Dance National Championship. This is the second year the sport will have an NAIA National Championship as the NAIA recognized cheerleading and dance as championship sports in 2017. Baker took home third place last year at the inaugural competition, Aquinas finished second and Midland took home the national champion trophy.

Baker earned an at-large bid on Sunday to allow them to return to nationals. The winner of each regional competition receives an automatic bid, and the rest of the qualifiers are determined by averaging scores from previous competitions this season.

The Wildcats hosted the 2018 Southeast Regional competition on Feb. 23. Although Baker was in the first after the preliminary portion of the competition, Grand View took the top spot and the automatic bid to nationals with 79.66 points. The Central Methodist dance team took home second place with 78 points, and Baker rounded out the top three with 75.18 points.

Central Methodist also received an at-large bid to nationals, meaning the top three teams from the Southeast Regional will compete against each other again in the NAIA National Championships. Other teams Baker will compete against include Aquinas, Lindenwood, Loyola, Midland, Morningside, Oklahoma City, Point Park, Siena Heights and St. Ambrose. 

During the regional competition, dancers also competed individually for All-American honors. Baker juniors Alison Prather and Allie Howland became three-time All-Americans, and sophomore Alyssa Monson became a two-time All-American. Prather, Howland and Monson were all also named to the Heart All-Conference team this year.

Sophomore Lexi Weidman and freshmen Cheleia Marshall and Keirstyn Reynolds were named Honorable Mention All-Americans.

The dance team will travel to Oklahoma City University for the national championship on March 9-10 at Abe Lemons Arena.