For just the second time in program history, Brainerd advanced to the Class 3A jazz finals and then posted a program best fifth-place finish Friday, Feb. 14, at Target Center in Minneapolis.
“Our girls did great,” Brainerd head coach Cindy Clough said. “We were really proud of them. Oh, my gosh, everybody in the finals was fabulous. There were kind of three teams vying for that fifth and sixth place spot and Lakeville North was the one that didn’t make it in. They were close.”
Brainerd finished fifth after the opening-round qualifying to advance to finals. Clough said Brainerd was ranked sixth going in, but topped Prior Lake, which finished sixth and Lakeville North.
Brainerd also improved its score by 10 points in the finals.
“We were happy about that,” Clough said. “I think maybe getting out there a second time you just want it a little bit more. Sometimes it’s just a sharper perspective by the judges with fewer teams to focus on, but we thought we did better at night.”
Brainerd’s only other finals appearance was in 2014.
Eastview won the state title with Wayzata finishing second and Maple Grove third.
“These girls have just worked so hard,” Clough said. “They’ve pulled together and worked hard. To be up with these metro schools is pretty impressive. Many of them are a lot bigger than us pulling from a larger area so we just feel really proud to be the only outstate school to be up there.”
Clough said she’s hoping the momentum carries over to Saturday, Feb. 15’s state kick competition. Brainerd will compete in Class 3A. Pierz and Crosby-Ironton will compete in Class 1A.
Clough said it was a long day Friday, but she’s confident Brainerd will be ready for Saturday.
“We are exhausted,” Clough said. “We just got out of the arena (9:15 p.m.) and we’ve been going since 7 a.m. It’s a long day. It’s tiring, but we’ll get amped up and we’ll be ready. We actually practiced kick between prelims and finals today because we knew it was going to be such a late night.”