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Dance Team: Warriors open season Saturday at Maple Grove Invite

Twelve seniors headline the roster as the Brainerd Warriors prepare to kick their 2014-15 season into high gear when they compete Saturday at the Maple Grove Invite.

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Marissa Knopf practices her dance routine this week as the Warrior Dance Team prepares for their first meet of the season Saturday against Maple Grove. Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls

Twelve seniors headline the roster as the Brainerd Warriors prepare to kick their 2014-15 season into high gear when they compete Saturday at the Maple Grove Invite.

The senior delegation includes captains Mackenzie Davidge, Haley Norton, Marissa Knopf, Cierra Meyer Berg and Amy Shepard.

"Senior leadership is going well," Warriors coach Cindy Clough said. "We are scrambling a bit as we are doing both routine styles at once as Central Lakes Conference meet rules have changed, so our energies are divided, which has made it challenging.

"We typically get one finished and start the other. Bringing both out at the same meet has been hard on our rookies, so seniors are having to mentor double time.

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Warriors dance team

  • Head coach: Cindy Clough, 37th season
  • Assistant coaches: Julie Davidge (8th season), Alexandra Clough (8th), Amy Peeters (4th), Christina Sanow (8th)
  • 2013-14 Section 4-3A finish: Second in kick, third in jazz
  • 2013-14 Class 3A state finish: Sixth in jazz, seventh in high kick
  • Captains: Mackenzie Davidge, Haley Norton, Marissa Knopf, Cierra Meyer Berg, Amy Shepard.

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"Our captains are leading very well. They are exceptional leaders and great dancers and their work ethic is over the top."

On Tuesday, the Warriors will compete in their first CLC meet at Rocori.

Clough said with jazz being added to CLC meets the team will have to have kick and jazz routines prepared. She said Brainerd coaches have decided to do two kick routines this season.

The Warriors' first kick routine will be a new version of "We Will Rock You" by Queen.

"Everyone loves that song and it gets the crowd going, so we are excited to work on it," Clough said.

The second kick routine will be unveiled at the Eastview Showcase in January.

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"We are not going to bring it out until very late," Clough said. "We are nervous about this, but also excited. We will not have it judged until the week before sections so it is a risk. If they love it, all's good, but if they don't, we will be backed into a corner, but we are pretty confident in what we have planned.

"I actually had more done on that dance than I did the ones we are doing right now going into the season. We are going to keep the new one on the back burner and hopefully come out strong with it."

Clough said Warrior coaches are encouraged about where the team is skill-wise entering the season. She said this could possibly be Brainerd's strongest jazz team to date.

"The team has been climbing each year," she said. "The team is senior-heavy with high skill level and they're also self-motivated and driven."

Last year the Warriors made history by making the jazz state finals for the first time. A goal this season is to at least repeat that finish and inch up higher.

"Our kids need to believe this could be a reality for them," Clough said. "They potentially could make it as high as the top three in the state. We feel they are that good.

"Our goal is to use the right style and mix for this team. We have changed songs three times to date. We just want to make sure we choose the style wisely, to maximize these kids' talents. They are very versatile, which is what tends to make us vacillate.

"We know they can pull off a sassy style, they are good at hip-hop, they can turn and they can do classical, so we actually are trying to create something that will showcase their versatility."

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Clough thought she was going to be ahead of the game this year by ordering costumes last spring.

"They have come in and one of the moms (Celeste Gardner) completely rhinestoned one and now we don't feel they are right for what we want to do," Clough said. "They will go into storage and we will create something different with a bit of an edge."

Clough said the original costumes were inspired by a Grace Gold Olympic costume. The new ones are inspired by Beyonce.

"They are too pretty for the direction we are going," she said. "The new ones will have a more graphic edgy look. The team has been selling old uniforms to other teams trying to make money for the new ones.

"The team is also recycling some old kick costumes for the final kick costume to save money and wearing old ones for the first routine."

• Junior varsity

Clough said the JV is doing a salsa mix for jazz and an Army inspired routine for kick.

"We are excited to be doing jazz for JV again," she said. "Many varsity kick dancers will dance on JV Jazz.

"For the Army routine, we plan to wear actual Army jackets with black legs. Currently we are only doing JV kick as so many JV girls are swinging and learning the varsity jazz."

The Warriors' coach said the team is focusing on improving its fitness.

"They need to maximize their cardio so they can keep up their endurance to sustain power throughout the routines," Clough said. "Just as in other sports, strength and cardio is key.

"People have no idea how hard it is to sustain the amount of kicks or leaps and jumps we execute in such a short period of time. Three and a half minutes can seem like an hour."

• Warriors roster

Seniors: Stephanie Anderson, Alicia Andrews, Kassondra Blood, Mackenzie Davidge, Shakyra Johnson, Marissa Knopf, Cierra Meyer-Berg, Cheylin Neimeyer, Haley Norton, Carlie Plantenberg, Alivia Rardin, Amy Shepherd.

Juniors: Hannah Anderson, Ashley Bontjes, Naomi Bremer, Tarrin Carter, Abigail Colson, Cassie Gardner, Maura Halverson, Annika Mau, Hannah Nameniuk.

Sophomores: Victoria Blood, Justice Blowers, Makayla Clough, Avery Davidge, Hannah Doerr, , Sharaia Goble, Maddi Gohman, Kaytlin Hart, Chloe Hollen, Gracie Ostrowski, Emily Patnode, Betsy Rardin, Maddie Riley, Ariana Rodahl, Jordan Rudolph, Hannah Rybak, Kalie Ylinen.

Freshmen: Megan Biggs, Alayna Burmeister, Ashlee Carter, Lora Davis, Davonn Epps, Gemma Hollen, Kalie Jeremiason, Jazzy Logelin, Brooke Peterson, Olivia Sedlachek, Marcy Stout, Anna Vreeland.

• Warriors schedule

Nov 22, at Maple Grove Invite 9:30 a.m.

Nov 25, CLC at Rocori 6:30 p.m.

Dec 6, Invite at TBA

Dec 19, Central Lakes Conference meet at Brainerd

Jan 10, at Lakeville North Invite

Jan 16, CLC at Alexandria 6:30 p.m.

Jan 17, at Wayzata Jazz Invite

Jan 24, at Eastview Showcase

Jan 31, Section 4-3A meet at Brainerd

Feb 13-14, Class 3A state tournament at Target Center

MIKE BIALKA may be reached at mike.bialka@brainerddispatch.com or 855-5861. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bertsballpark .

Marissa Knopf practices her dance routine this week as the Warrior Dance Team prepares for their first meet of the season Saturday against Maple Grove. Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls
Marissa Knopf practices her dance routine this week as the Warrior Dance Team prepares for their first meet of the season Saturday against Maple Grove. Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls

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