Troy Middle School dance team takes home state championship

Members of the Troy Middle School dance team pose with a Shorewood Fire Department truck before their celebratory parade.

The Troy School District 30-C Junior High Dance Team took home the state title for its hip-hop routine at the Illinois Drill Team Association championship Feb. 10 in Springfield, as well as a second-place grand championship team finish.

“We were shocked when we were announced for first place,” coach Chrissy Thoele said. “They were announcing the winners, and we heard third place and second place, and we sort of started to feel defeated, and then they announced us, and we were all so excited.”

The team of 13 sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade girls has been working on its routines for the state competition since August and competed in two qualifying tournaments before heading to state.

On Dec. 9, the team took first place in all three of its dance categories – open poms, hip-hop, and lyrical – in the junior high division at a regional competition at Dunlap High School, which qualified it for state in all three categories.

“You need to have a score of 70 or higher in an event to get to state as a junior high team,” coach Trisha Koerner said. “For high school teams, the qualifying score is an 80, and our girls got a 78 in poms.”

The Troy team swept the competition again Jan. 25, when it competed in Chicago at the Phoenix Military Academy Regional.

“We’re extremely proud of the hard work and dedication of our girls, and thankful for the families for their support. We couldn’t do it without them.”

—  Chrissy Thoele, Troy School District 30-C Junior High Dance Team coach

“We already qualified after our first competition, but we wanted the girls to get more practice and to get feedback from different judges,” Koerner said. “We were able to use the feedback we got in the regional competitions to make positive changes going into state.”

At the state competition, the team placed first in hip-hop, second in open poms and fourth in lyrical. It also took second place for the junior high team prize out of 33 competing groups, which is calculated by taking every team’s two highest scores and averaging them.

“We were blown away,” Koerner said. “It was a very long, 15-hour day, and we did not know what to expect because we don’t have the girls watch the other teams.”

“We’re extremely proud of the hard work and dedication of our girls, and thankful for the families for their support,” Thoele said. “We couldn’t do it without them.”

The victory in the hip-hop category was even sweeter for the team because it included all 13 members of the dance squad and was choreographed by a returning alum, Karlie Werrbach, who graduated from Troy Middle School in 2020 and is currently a senior at Joliet West High School.

The second-place open poms routine was choreographed by Koerner’s daughter, Cailey Koerner, who is a freshman at the University of Louisville and who was a member of Koerner and Thoele’s first Troy dance team in 2019.

“We’re a team, but we’re also a dance family,” Koerner said of the program. “It’s why we always have alum coming back to support us, whether it’s choreographing routines or coming to watch the girls compete at state. We already have one of our eighth graders promising that she’ll be back to watch us next year at state. It’s so great. These are memories that will last their whole lives.”

Members of the Troy Middle School dance team show off their medals after their state championship performance on Feb. 10.

The students who were part of the championship team were Malorie Boyer, Lexi Crandall, Maci Crandall, Lola Crowther, Sophia Contreras, Isa Ferreti-Raucci, Giada Juritza, Sophia Knezetic, Cassidy Koerner, Lucy Lesnik, Anahila Oceguera, Raylee Pleshar and Bella Wieher.

In addition to competing at the regional competitions, Malorie Boyer and Cassidy Koerner also competed at the Start the Beat competition in October. Boyer competed as a soloist and in a duet number with Koerner. Although there is no IDTA competition for solos and duos at state, the girls placed high enough in the fall competition to earn a place in a showcase performance at state.

The team was celebrated with a parade provided by the Troy Fire Protection District on Feb. 14 and has been welcomed by the District 30-C board and the Shorewood City Council to be recognized for its success at their upcoming meetings.

“Not only did the Troy dance team win a state championship, but they have excelled in the classroom, too. These girls are well rounded, and we will truly miss the eighth graders,” District 30-C athletic director Meagan DeGroot said. “The dancers and coaches had a long season, and they held their head high until the end. We look forward to seeing them advance on their high school dance teams.”