BLHS/SHS drill team dance their way to state competition

The BLHS/SHS Panther dance team competed in the state championships last weekend for the first time.

The team finished 11th in their Pom competition and 10th in Drill.

Friends and family members of the Bonney Lake High/Sumner high dance team gathered March 24 at Bonney Lake High for a pep rally to wish the girls luck.

Every member of the team was introduced to the crowd by coach Jill McKinley and then those in attendance were treated to performances of the two state-qualified routines as well as a “drill down” of the team.

“It’s just amazing what they have done,” McKinley said about her team, which is made up of 14 girls from Bonney Lake High and two from Sumner. “They amaze me.”

This year’s team first got together in May and attended a camp during the summer, where they began to bond and develop the goal of going to the state competition this year, McKinley said.

“We’ve become kind of a family,” said team captain Rachel Knutson, a junior.

Knutson said at first she did not expect the team to get to the state competition, but said the team gained a lot of confidence by qualifying their drill routine – in which the girls perform to the tune of rock band Linkin Park – at the first meet of the year.

Knutson said the routine, which features all of the girls displaying an “angry face” and a fierce look, gave them a lot of confidence and a “dominating presence.”

“It really helps us focus,” she said.

The team also qualified its pom routine, in which the girls play robots that slowly go off of their programming.

“I love being a robot,” said Nicole Cochran, a freshman and one of the two Sumner girls on the team.

Both Cochran and fellow Sumner freshman Jacey Zitterich take the bus up the hill three times a week for practice and said the crew in Bonney Lake welcomed them immediately, even giving them purple balloons at the pep rally instead of the traditional Bonney Lake teal.

“I love these girls, they’ve really welcomed me,” Cochran said.

McKinley called her team a “great group of girls” and said she is proud of everything they’ve accomplished this season.

“They’ve come a long way,” she said.

Long way or not, they still have a little further to go: Yakima.

“This was all our goal at the beginning of the year,” said second lieutenant Breanna Zimbelman.

“We’re really excited to go to state,” Cochran said.

bbeckley@courierherald.com or 360-802-8209.