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Interim coach preparing team for Florida trip

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If a member of the Baker dance team steps wrong in the sand on the team’s trip to sunny Daytona, Fla., there shouldn’t be any need for worry.

At least not anymore, after Baker’s assistant athletic trainer Lynsey Payne was named interim head coach for the dance squad.

Recently, Payne was asked to fill in for former coach Cathy Ritter as the team supervisor on its five-day trip to the national competition.

But as any member of the dance squad will attest, Payne is doing far more than simply supervising.

“Lynsey has been a real godsend for us,” co-captain Lindsay Friesen said. “She has been a big help.”

Payne, who has been dancing since she was three years old, said she has been involved with dance in several different areas. In addition to dancing in high school, Payne was a four-year member of the dance team at the University of Kansas and has also judged local competitions.

“I have judged a lot of different dance groups,” she said. “I have helped with the Washburn Dancing Blues, the Kansas Coyotes and now Baker.”

Freshman Alex Hess said Payne has helped immensely over the past few weeks in perfecting the team’s routine. The squad will try to duplicate its recent success as it takes the same routine that earned the squad third place honors at the Heart of America Athletic Conference Competition down to Daytona.

“We have really good choreography in our routine,” Hess said. “We’re doing a lot more challenging things than in years past, so to pull it off at HAAC was great.”

Friesen said the team is focusing on the feedback it received from the judges at the HAAC competition.

“We are definitely improving on the things the judges told us to work on,” she said. “We’re getting stronger each practice.”

Payne said the squad is slated to compete in the second division.

Payne said teams like Kansas State University’s Classy ‘Cats, Washburn University and Johnson County Community College will also be traveling to Daytona.

“There are a wide range of schools going down for nationals,” she said.

If the team performs well enough to qualify for the finals, it will have another performance April 11.

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