The Prior Lake dance team heads into the season as one of the elite programs in the state.
Can the Lakers stay there? That will be the goal.
Last year, Prior Lake made the Class 3A state finals in both high kick and jazz funk for the first time in program history, finishing sixth in both of those dances.
It was the third straight year Prior Lake made the finals in jazz. It finished a program-best fifth in 2017.
The Lakers have made state in jazz six straight seasons, taking sixth in 2016, 10th in both 2014 and 2015 and 11th in 2013.
In high kick, the Lakers made state last year for the first time in program history, making the finals (top six) on their first try.
There's plenty of talent back for Prior Lake this winter. Returning seniors include: Bella Golay, Abby Yost, Claire Olsen, Lindsey Soderberg, Maryann Erickson, Regan Thomas, Alexa Gromacki, Amanda Fuechtmann and Tori Walker.
Juniors back include: Anna O'Connell, Heather Rothenberger, Julia Wieskus, Kirstin Kay, Sydney Pahl, Kaiya Kielb Young, Hope Phan and Olivia Soukup.
Other members of the team include: seniors Faith Phan and Taylor Kohlbeck, juniors Gabriella Elster, Lacey Letourneau, Mariana Lehrer, Rachel Slates and Zoe Tressel and sophomores Ava Burandt, Georgia Collignon and Molly Hovick.
Prior Lake opened the season Nov. 17 at the Burnsville Invitational. The team took second in jazz behind Eastview in the 12-team field.
The South Suburban Conference dance season began Nov. 20 at Lakeville North with a jazz meet. Prior Lake took second behind Eastview there as well.
Eastview has won two of the last three state titles in jazz and last year the Lightning claimed the crown in high kick for a third straight season.
Eastview is in Section 1AAA with the Lakers, along with Lakeville North and Lakeville South. It's arguably the toughest section in the state. The top-three teams in jazz and high kick make the state field, so one of those strong programs gets left out each year in each of those dances.
The second SSC meet is also a jazz competition and that will be held at Prior Lake High School on Nov. 27 at 7 p.m.
The two SSC kick meets are Dec. 4 at Shakopee and Dec. 11 at Rosemount at 7 p.m. The SSC Championships are Dec. 15 at Lakeville South at 11 a.m.
This year's Section 1AAA meet is scheduled for Feb. 9 at Bloomington Kennedy.
The state competition is Feb. 15-16 at the Target Center in Minneapolis. Jazz is held the first day, followed by high kick the second day.