The mid-Willamette Valley had a strong showing at the OSAA state dance championships, held on Friday and Saturday, with Lebanon High School taking second place in the 5A classification, South Albany third and West Albany fourth.
In the 4A ranks, Philomath was sixth and Sweet Home eighth.
“Our kids had a phenomenal season this year and finishing second was a great accomplishment for them,” said Lebanon Explosion coach Megan Sharp.
Hanna Davis and Paige McGuire were named to the all-state team for Lebanon.
The Explosion has 17 members on its varsity squad, and 13 members on a new JV team.
“We had quite a few people interested in trying out this year. The level of experience everybody had, it was too much variety to put everybody on the varsity team,” Sharp said.
She wasn’t exactly sure why there was increased turnout in Lebanon, which doesn’t have a feeder youth program like the Albany schools, but said there’s been increased interest in the sport in general in Linn County.
“I definitely think our area is upping our game in dance and cheer,” said Ashley Custis, dance coach for the South Albany RedHawks.
Custis said her team, which has 22 members and 17 students on the competing team, performed above expectations with the third-place finish.
“We have lots of potential going into next season,” she added.
South Albany’s Kalynn Smith was named to the 5A all-state team.
The West Albany Hi-Steppers had Rachelle Headrick, Megan Carroll and Kieran Premore make the all-state squad.
“Our goal the whole season was to get into the top five. Placing fourth, we were really excited about that as a team,” said Hi-Steppers coach Haven Barrett.
The scores were tight in the 5A division, and especially so among the mid-valley schools. Pendleton won with a score of 79.98 points, followed by Lebanon with 79.30, South Albany with 78.23 and West Albany with 78.22.
“It was probably one of the toughest 5A divisions we’ve seen in years. There were a lot of really, really talented teams,” Custis said.