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Lake Oswego and Lakeridge high schools' dance teams earn first- and second-place finishes in the Oregon Category Championships

SUBMITTED PHOTO: JAMES MCGREW - LOHS pocketed first in Large Pom for the fifth year in a row during the Dance & Drill Coaches Association of Oregon Category Championships.Lake Oswego and Lakeridge high schools leapt past the competition during the Dance & Drill Coaches Association of Oregon Category Championships on Saturday.

LOHS pocketed first in Large Pom for the fifth year in a row and second in Small Jazz, while Lakeridge High whirled away with second in Large Jazz during the event at Rex Putnam High School in Milwaukie.

The season now will continue through the winter with events leading up to the state championships in March.

“We’re excited to start the competition season off with a bang,” said Kendall Shepherd, head coach of the Laker Dancers.

“We had a blast!” said Michelle Skidmore, head coach of the Pacer Dancers. “It’s been a really fun season. The girls have really pushed each other to do great and put in the extra work to be great dancers.”SUBMITTED PHOTO - Lakeridge High took second in Large Jazz during the Category Championships on Saturday at Rex Putnam High School in Milwaukie, Ore.

During a series of qualifying tournaments this fall, both teams had to finish first or second just to earn a spot in the Category Championships. Skidmore said the Category Championships divisions are so specialized that it’s enjoyable to watch dancers embody each style. Maintaining a low center of gravity and high level of energy are hallmarks of jazz dancing, a style that evolved with jazz music. Pom involves precise motions and involves the use of pom poms for the majority of a routine.

Other categories, divided by group size and style, include Small and Large Hip Hop, Novelty, Small Pom, Small and Large Contemporary, Kick and Modern.

“We’ve been working really hard since May on our technique and perfecting our skills in preparation for fall championships,” LOHS senior captain Kendall Ivey said. “I’m so proud of how far we’ve come as a team and thrilled with our performances on Saturday.”

Lakeridge Athletic Director Ian O’Brien said the Pacers “performed tremendously at championships and have had a great season of competition. Our school and administration are very proud of their accomplishments.”SUBMITTED PHOTO: JAMES MCGREW - The Laker Dancers also landed second place in Small Jazz and will be heading to the National Dance Team Championships this February in Orlando, Fla.

LOHS Athletic Director Brigham Baker had similar praise for the Lakers.

“Our dancers and coaches do an incredible job of competing and practicing for all of their events they have. ... They are truly a great team that Lake Oswego is proud of,” he said.

Both high schools will now focus on the state competition. The second half of the dance season is devoted to Oregon School Activities Association events, with the state Dance and Drill Championships scheduled for March 17-19.

The Laker Dancers also will be gearing up for the National Dance Team Championships early next year in Orlando, Fla. The group earned a place in the competition during a regional event in June at the University of Puget Sound in Washington. The Lakers placed first at regionals and Southridge High School placed second, so both advanced to national competition.

“We can’t wait for what’s next as we start working toward nationals,” Ivey said.SUBMITTED PHOTO - The Pacer Dancers are planning a dance showcase on Dec. 17 at Lakeridge High School.

The Pacers also have something special coming up. The team will present a dance showcase from 7-9 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 17, at Lakeridge High, 1235 Overlook Drive. Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for students, and anyone 5 or younger gets in free. There will be hot cocoa and cookies and lots of dancing, featuring LOHS students and dancers from the Portland metro area.

A free clinic from 9-11 a.m. Saturday at Lakeridge offers an opportunity for K-5 students to learn some moves to perform at the dance showcase.

“I think we’re just having a great season overall,” Skidmore said. “They’ve been working really hard and trying to do their very best.”

By Jillian Daley
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