Poms pushing for spot in state


Elizabeth Hsieh, Feature Editor

Stage lights flash and the music starts; a group of 18 girls come on stage with one thing in mind: Day 2.
For almost the past 20 years in a row, the Poms team had built and impressive record of qualifying for state every year, but despite their consistency, the girls have yet to claim a spot among the top 12, the curtain always falling just before they can advance to Day 2 of the IHSA state competition.
“When you get to state , you perform once, and then the top 12 go on to the next round and perform again the next day,” Olivia Arriaga, junior, said,.“We’ve never made it to the second day, so that’s what our goal is this year.”
For the team, the fight for Day 2 begins long before the official IHSA competition as they compete in one of the hardest sectionals in state.
“Last year we were in a sectionals that had 10 teams that made it to state the year prior, so 10 teams were returning from a state performance, but they only take the top 6 teams,” coach Katie Jeray said. “Right there four teams that were at state the previous year were not going back.”
“It was kind of a motivating factor for us,” Jeray said. “We knew that we were going up against really tough teams, but to get second at that sectional competition last year was a really big accomplishment… It was just a tough competition that the girls worked through.”
Whereas many other state competitors have resources and outside help, the girls design and “clean” their own routines.
“A lot of other schools have professional choreographers and a dance room, but we make it work with four captains, who make the dances, and the cafeteria,” Kate Connerty, junior, said.
This season the girls have taken on two different performances, one of which is their first lyrical routine since Jeray took over coaching.
“This year we have two much more competitive dances,” Arriaga said. “Last year we had a strong contemporary and a hip hop, which we didn’t focus much more on, but this year we have two strong, different pieces, and we’ve gotten them done a lot earlier this year to help us move forward. We’ve been cleaning a lot and we’re hoping that’s enough to keep us going.”
Over the years the girls have tried many different combinations of genres from jazz to hip hop, trying to “find what works best with the team,” Jeray said.
“We’re always looking to make the routines as unique to us as possible, making them a good fit to the skill level, and the girls have a very high skill level this year,” Jeray said.
The team has high hopes for their routines, looking to tweak them as necessary as they get feedback from competitions leading up to state.
“We want to see what judges like and what they don’t like. Is there a way to improve the musicality? Is there a way to make it a little more unique?” Jeray said.
Their next competition before conference is the Huntley Invite on Jan. 6.