The cancellation of high school sports came at the end of the winter season. The basketball season still had state championships to complete in two classes. Other sports had completed competition but barely had time to be recognized.
One high school sport that often doesn’t get much recognition is dance. Catholic high school teams were among those that participated in the Missouri Dance Team Association state tournament on Feb. 29 in Kansas City.
St. Francis Borgia High School won in Division 2, its 11th state title since 2006. Ursuline Academy was fourth in Division 3 and St. Pius X High School was fifth in Division 1.
In their divisions, Ursuline finished second in pom and lyrical, St. Dominic High School came in second in 3D mix and precision dance, Duchesne High School finished fourth in precision dance and just missed a top five finish in Division 1, Incarnate Word Academy was third in hip hop and Nerinx Hall had a third-place finish in hip hop and fourth in precision dance.
In 2018, Ursuline Academy won the Division 4 title and St. Francis Borgia was second in Division 2. Last year, Borgia finished first in Division 2 while Ursuline finished fourth and St. Dominic fifth in Division 3.
Borgia Coach Kayla Eckelkamp said “state is our favorite time of the year. We work really, really hard just for that one day.”
The team, which had five seniors and five juniors among its 12 members, finished first in both of its events, pom and precision jazz.
Each year Borgia has a hard-working team that takes its task seriously while having fun, said Eckelkamp, a 2008 Borgia grad who is in her fourth year as varsity head coach after being a junior varsity coach and assistant coach of the varsity. “We encourage students to try out. The girls love it so much and they become good friends,” she said.
Eckelkamp cited support from the school administration and parents and also credited assistant coach Meg Wunderlich.
Brenna Mickley of St. Pius X was the only local student from a Catholic school to place as a soloist. She participated on the St. Pius cheer team in ninth and tenth grades and on the Lancer Dancer team sophomore through senior years. Mickley has trained at Dance Productions Unlimited in Arnold since she was 2 years old. She will attend Lindenwood University in the fall, majoring in elementary education and minoring in dance. She plans to audition for the Lindenwood Dance Team.
Mickley choreographed the solo to Paula Abdul’s “Cold Hearted Snake” that she won with at state. She said she enjoys experimenting with different movements, and winning an award for a dance that she created and performed herself “is the best feeling.”
The St. Pius dancer said she “always looked to dance as my way to express myself and relieve stress.”
Mickley also enjoys the team aspect, noting that “the greatest feeling ever is running off the floor after a routine and celebrating with people who have the same passion.”
The Lancer Dancers had six members this year. The team scored second place in mix dance and fourth in pom. Coach Brandee Boyd said Mickley is “one of the most talented and humble dancers I have ever worked with. She has the ability to make her dancing look effortless. She is a strong turner and jumper. She is always pushing herself to improve.”
Mickley has been a leader of the team with a hard work ethic and positive attitude, her coach said.
“I love coaching the St. Pius X Lancer Dancers. I am lucky to get to share my love of dance with such talented girls. I am so proud of them every time they take the field, court or floor,” Boyd said.
Kenny is a staff writer for the Review and a member of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Oakville.