The Prior Lake dance team continues to ascend to new heights.
The Lakers earned their six straight trip to state in jazz funk at the Section 1AAA competition Feb. 10 at Bloomington Kennedy, but that was only half of the good news.
Prior Lake also made the Class 3A state field in high kick for the first time in program history. The Lakers were third in both dances at sections and the top three qualify.
"We told the girls at the beginning of the season our goal was go to state in both [dances] and we would achieve it, Lakers coach Cristi Falkenberg said. "We knew with this team we could do it. Having a team of all veterans really helped too. Every single person on the team, varsity, junior varsity, coaches and parents were all aboard and it has been an incredible year."
The state competition is Feb. 16-17 at the Target Center in Minneapolis. Jazz is the first day, followed by high kick the second day.
Last year at state, Prior Lake finished a program-best fifth in jazz after taking sixth the year before. The team was 10th in both 2015 and 2014 and 11th in 2013.
Eastview is the overwhelming favorite to defend its state kick title. The Lightning, also the defending champs in jazz, will also be one of the favorites in that dance too, along with Wayzata.
Eastview won both kick and jazz in Section 1AAA with four and five rank points, respectively. Lakeville North was second in both dances (10 and 7 rank points), while the Lakers finished with 12 and 10 rank points.
Lakeville South (13 and 15 ran points) was fourth in both dances in the 14-team field, followed by Burnsville (20 rank points for each) taking fifth place in both.
"Both our kick and jazz teams put in 110 pecerent effort this year and their hard work paid off," Falkenberg said. "Nothing is better when you walk off the floor after the performances and the whole team is in tears because you just know you made your dreams come true.
"Hearing our name for kick was a feeling I cannot describe," Falkenberg added. "I have never been more proud to coach this team."
The Lakers are led by its four senior captains, Izzy Derks, Emma Gordon, Lauren Pahl and Jillian Roscoe. Prior lake had 23 of 24 dancers back from its kick team last year that was fourth at sections and 10 of 14 dances in jazz.
So the team was blessed with talent and experience, which no doubt helped fuel its two state berths.
Others back for the Lakers this season included: seniors Makenzee Helser, Lilli Drewes, Sydnie Katz and Erika Stellmaker, juniors Bella Golay, Abby Yost, Claire Olson, Lindsey Soderberg, Maryann Erickson, Regan Thomas, Sammy Curielli, Alexa Gromacki, Amanda Fuechtmann and Meg Huss, sophomores Anna O’Connell, Heather Rothenberger, Julia Wieskus, Kirstin Kay, Sydney Pahl and Kaiya Kielb-Young.
Other members of the team: junior Tori Walker and sophomores Hope Phan and Olivia Soukup.
To see more photos of the Lakers at sections, click here.