Basalt dance team wins state title |

Basalt dance team wins state title

Nate Peterson
Basalt High School's state championship dance team is made up of (left to right, back row) Elise Jacoby, Devan Cormier, Lilliana Carrasco, Ashley Ayers, Kassie Bingham, (middle row) Corinne Gillenwater, Georgia Heiss, Stefanie Strecher, (front row) Alexandra Norvell, team captain Jenna Bontempo, and Kelli Van Portfliet. (Contributed photo)

There are plenty of trophies on display at Basalt High School, but none that says “state champion.”

That soon will change. Before the 11 members of the Longhorns dance team perform their halftime routine at the Basalt-Aspen basketball game Dec. 15, town mayor Leroy Duroux will present them with the school’s first championship trophy.The Longhorns picked up the prize Saturday at the Denver Coliseum, then handed it off to an engraver, just to make it official. As for the state championship banner, sophomore Corinne Gillenwater said that’s also still “being worked on” – the opposite of the team’s winning routine, which took two months to hone to perfection.When it was announced at the Denver Coliseum that the Longhorns were the best among 10 teams in the 3A poms competition, senior captain Jenna Bontempo said “it was the most amazing feeling” she’s ever experienced.”For the past two years, when you don’t win first or second place, you get a feeling that all the work was for nothing,” Bontempo said of team’s fourth-place finish in 2005, which followed third- and fifth-place finishes the previous two years. “This year to win, it was such a surreal feeling, a great feeling. As a senior, it was my last year to pull it off and we did it.”Basalt’s varsity dance program has been in place for seven years. The Colorado High School Activities Association recognizes cheerleading and poms (dance) as varsity “spirit” sports, which makes the Longhorns title the school’s first CHSAA state athletics title.

Varsity dance is unique, however. There are regional contests in Colorado, but they are not mandatory to make it into the state competition. Basalt didn’t compete at a regional, and therefore was never judged this fall before arriving at the Denver Coliseum. Basalt and University (Greeley) were the only two teams to advance out of the preliminary round. In the finals, Basalt just edged University 84.67 points to 83.67.Bontempo said the team’s offbeat music selection helped impress the judges: Most of the teams in Denver danced to hip-hop or oldies music, while the Longhorns coordinated a routine to two songs from alternative rockers Collective Soul.”When we perform at games, we usually do a lot of the hot music, which tends to be a lot of hip-hop,” Bontempo said. “But the two songs we’ve been doing at state with last year and this year are completely different. Nobody else does rock, and the judges love it.”Gillenwater had a good feeling heading into the weekend but was surprised when the Longhorns earned a spot in the finals.”We were screaming so loud that we didn’t hear who the other team who was competing with us,” she said.

As for the final announcement, Gillenwater echoed Bontempo’s sentiments.”It was overwhelming,” she said. “Practically everyone started crying.”The win secures the Longhorns a spot in the national competition in early February at Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.Until then, the team has plenty of time to keep practicing its routine in front of its home fans in the gym where its new state championship banner will soon hang.Nate Peterson’s e-mail address is npeterson@aspentimes.comThe Aspen Times, Aspen, Colo.

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