Viterbo dance team competes at nationals


Noah Nelson, Sports Editor

The Viterbo dance team had one of their best seasons ever with many high-quality performances. Through hard work and team chemistry, they were able to reach the national tournament for the first time. The national event was held in Ypsilanti, Michigan, on March 11 and 12.  

They qualified for the event by placing second in the regional event in Crete, Nebraska. The team scored an 83.77 average for their two routines, placing just above Midland and finishing in second place.  

Dance scoring is based on certain skills and how they are performed as a team. There is a required team turn, turn sequence, and team jump. Choreography and musicality are also scored based on execution and difficulty. There are several judges who all rate the routine, and their scores are averaged together for a final team score. 

There were many great events before nationals, but Olivia Helmke, a team captain for the dancers, believes that the team’s best event was at St. Ambrose. “St. Ambrose is four-time national champions, and we actually beat them at their own court. . . So that was really exciting.”  

The dancers had the highest score in team history at the Dordt Invitational in Sioux Center, Iowa, with a score of 89.5. The event took place a week before regionals, which was a confidence boost for the V-Hawks.  

At nationals, the Viterbo dancers scored 80.64 and finished in 7th place. That score was the highest score for any first-time national attendees, a feat that coach Anna Luz was incredibly proud of, “I am in awe of how much this team accomplished this season,” she said after nationals. 

The dance team had stand-out athletes who made contributions to the team. Nyah Brooks and Jessalyn Wilson made the All-American Honorable Mention team for their third consecutive year, and Madelyn Dibble made the Honorable Mention team for her second year in a row. First-year dancers also did a great job at adapting to the college dance style. Helmke said, “In high school, you do just one style dance versus in college your routine has jazz, pom, and hip hop in it . . . Our freshmen have really adapted to that. We have two freshmen, Vanessa [Wong] and Ashley [Laschenski] who have done a good job at jumping into everything.” 

Coaches have also played an important role in team success for the dancers, bringing in positive methods for continued improvement. Helmke said, “Our head coach [Anna Luz] has been doing a ton. . . showing our comparison of scores. She has been putting a lot of extra work and making us feel like we’re important.” Olivia also credited assistant coaching, “Our assistant coach [Emily Sweeny] has another job on top of this and she still comes in with such a good attitude. It’s super helpful with practice every day.”