Aspen High dance team heads to state championship in defense of 3A pom title
The Aspen High School dance team wasn’t sure if it would get the chance to defend its state championship from a year ago because of the pandemic. But, after overcoming multiple obstacles, that chance has finally arrived this week, more than 15 months after the initial coronation.
“It’s really been hard on these girls, but they continue to show up every day and that’s the most anyone could ask for,” AHS dance coach Maddy Miller said. “It’s a sense of normalcy for them, and if that’s what I can give them, then that’s what I’m trying at least. We’ve been ready since I’d say December, but everything didn’t start coming together until the last month or so.”
Miller, who is in her second season leading the program, guided Aspen to a state championship in her first go. The Skiers won the Class 3A pom title in December 2019 at the Denver Coliseum, their first Colorado High School Activities Association state championship in spirit or dance.
Aspen performs at 10:59 a.m. Friday, where it will compete against University, Grand Valley and SkyView Academy for this year’s 3A pom title at The Broadmoor World Arena in Colorado Springs. Unlike in previous years, where there has been a qualifier and a final, there is only a single performance for each team.
“It’s just a one-and-done kind of thing. Which can be good and bad,” Miller said. “It’s a different dynamic this year. They are ready, they just need to know the first time they go out there, that’s the last time they got.”
The journey started over the summer for the dance team, when the girls had to tryout virtually because of the COVID-19 lockdown. They recorded their routines from wherever they could — the park, a living room — and submitted them for the AHS coaches to review.
For those who made the team, competition has been few and far between. They’ve only had one in-person comp, a de facto “regional” the Skiers won, and another virtual competition in which they got fourth. Aspen was able to perform in front of a small audience at the March 11 boys basketball playoff game, but otherwise has had to train behind closed doors this year because of the pandemic.
“Every girl plays such a different role on our team. And whether they are competing or not, this team is so special in the fact they were able to come together as a team,” Miller said. “As long as my girls go out there and do the best they can and give everything they got, there is no reason they shouldn’t come home with the best, and hopefully that’s the state title. But you never know. Obviously it’s hard being a very objective sport. At the end of the day, as long as they know they did their best, I think we accomplished our goal.”
Aspen will be the second of the four 3A pom contenders to compete Friday. Per CHSAA’s schedule, the champion should be crowned before noon.
The Skiers are sending all 16 team members to state, although only nine will actually compete in the routine. Those nine include Ariana Elias Baumgartner, Sylvia Buck, Lily Jacobson, Savannah Kallas, Hadley Kidder, Riley MacKarthur, Abby Romero, Grace Romero and Caprice Seeman.
Non-competing team members include Josie Bradley, Eryn Brettman, Edie Creamer, Sofia Esteban, Sophie Genshaft, Gia Henrichon and Delaney Tuller.
The team has a completely different and more challenging routine from last year. The new theme is “fire” and continues to be tweaked by Miller as days turn to mere hours before competition.
“Winning a state title the first year kind of showed me they can do anything, so we challenged them a lot this year, even knowing we already had so many other obstacles with COVID,” Miller said. “This team is very resilient and we’ve been together for almost a full year now, at this point, and there is no reason they can’t go out there and do this and win again. But it’s been a very long time coming. I think it’s finally hitting them even that’s it’s finally here.”