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February 11, 2011

Dance Team in the National Spotlight

By Ryan Lee, NAU Media Relations

ORLANDO, Fla. - The Northern Arizona dance team finished 12th in the nation for Division 1 Jazz at the UDA College Nationals two weeks ago, their highest finish in program history.

Hard work and long hours proved NAU's commitment to success.

 "To be competing in the Division 1 category is a jump for us. Anytime we can make it to finals and make it through a majority of the teams to the select few that get to perform on ESPN is a great accomplishment for our program," said head coach Cassie Laughlin.

The team was given the national spotlight when it came time to compete in the finals. As if the pressure of competing as a finalist wasn't enough, each team performed live on ESPN. Being placed on stage in front of cameras, lights, and hundreds of schools competing for fans from all over the country requires a great deal of focus, but the 14 girls stood together and remembered the many hours of repeating that same two minute drill.

"We ran the same routine daily, so it's a lot of cleaning and a lot of hours making everyone look exactly the same," said Laughlin. The same two minute routine provided the precision needed to dance as one on the national stage.

Coach Laughlin and the girls couldn't be happier with their performance.

"We are heading in the right direction as far as collegiate dance teams go and we are moving in the right direction to be competitive against other schools," said Laughlin

When asked how the team feels about their finish, sophomore Hannah Degnan from Scottsdale, Ariz. said, "We are so proud of ourselves. We worked all year for this and we really came together as a team over winter break throughout our practices."

As the team prepares to build on its success for next season, the NAU cheer and dance programs will be holding open tryouts for both squads. Tryouts will be held on April 22-23 in the Rolle Activity Center on south campus. For complete information on tryouts, including registration and start times, click here for the tryout packets for the dance and cheer teams.

Division I Jazz Final Results
1. California State University Fullerton
2. California State University Long Beach
3. Missouri State University
4. North Dakota State University
5. Southeastern Louisiana University
6. University of Northern Iowa
7. University of California Santa Barbara
8. University of Wisconsin Milwaukee
9. Hofstra University
10. University of Delaware
11. George Washington University
12. Northern Arizona University
13. St Johns University

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