MHS Upbeats place second at the state dance competition

By Kayla Bauer | Editor-in-Chief

The Marshfield Upbeats worked against gravity last weekend to place second at the OSAA State Dance/Drill Championships in Portland.

The team received a score of 81.72, which was based on content, execution and overall effect. They finished behind Milwaukie High School, who earned their second consecutive state title with a score of 84.08, in the 5A Intermediate division. Coach Debbie Brown said she is more than happy with the result, as it was the highest score the Upbeats had received in five years.

“I’m thrilled,” Brown said. “They were amazing.”

Senior captain Shannon Boatright said she is extremely proud of their final performance.

“You can feel when everyone is dancing together and dancing their hardest, and it felt like that the entire time,” Boatright said.

The team also included seniors Marissa Luckman, Skyler Malamed and Sarah Sweider, juniors Brittney Loper, Kelsey Scott and Kaila Tripp; sophomores Ashley Barbian, Sara Birrer, Katie Guetterman, Christa Jackson, Hannah McMillan, Brianna Patnode and Paige Thomas; and freshmen Katherine Alcober, Daysha Browne, Hayley Engel and Ashley Peters.

The Upbeats began learning their state routine during Christmas break, with four hour practices Monday through Friday and five to six hour practices on Saturdays prior to the competition. The state routine choreographed to John Mayer’s “Gravity.” Brown said the song each year is chosen to accommodate the strengths of the team.

“I knew this team would do best with a lyrical, jazz routine,” Brown said.

Tripp described the routine as very fluid and more lyrical than those in the past. The first lines of the song are, “Gravity is working against me, and gravity wants to bring me down,” so the Upbeats were supposed to look as though they are struggling against gravity.

“We’ve been given the example that we’re dancing in water,” Tripp said. “Our faces are supposed to look like we’re struggling, like we’re working against gravity.”

The Upbeats placed first in two competitions with this routine and were ranked second in their division prior to state. Brown said the goal was not to win, but to get a personal record for their score, which was a previously a 78.

“We don’t discuss winning as a team goal,” Brown said. “We only have a team goal for GPAs and the expectation that everyone will do their best.”

The Upbeats had an average GPA of 3.71, which was the highest of all 5A dance teams.

Boatright was also selected to be a part of an all-state team comprised of the eight best dancers in 5A, and she performed a routine with the combined 5A and 6A all-state teams prior to the awards ceremony. She said she was honored and called her teammates’ support during her last performance “so encouraging.”

“It was such an amazing feeling being selected and performing to represent my team,” Boatright said. “I have never smiled so much in my life as when I was facing my friends and family and performing the heck out of that routine.”

Brown said she is extremely proud of the Upbeats and credits the team’s success to their dedication and support for one another.

“I’m really proud to have coached these girls,” Brown said. “Their support of each other as teammates was incredible, and they were totally committed to their team.”