Dance Team Nationals

Anya Kelley, Staff Writer

“When they announced the second place team, we knew we were now national champions. When our name was announced we jumped up and everyone was crying and hugging our teammates because at that moment, we knew it all paid off.”

On April 8th, 2022 the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh Dance Team won their first ever national championship at the Collegiate Cheer and Dance Championships at Daytona Beach, Florida. UWODT placed first in DIII Pom and third in DIII Jazz bringing home two national championships for the university.

The UWODT’s season starts in August and ends in April. The girls practice three times a week adding more as they get closer to performances at basketball games and local competitions. At the end of their season, they get on a plane and head down to Daytona, Florida for nationals.

At nationals, the UWODT competes against 200-some other teams in a battle to become national champions.

In 2019, they took home second place in Pom DII and seventh in Jazz DII. Just before nationals in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic caused a nationwide shutdown and the team unfortunately was no longer able to attend. 2021 ended in a similar fashion and finally getting to attend in 2022 was oh so sweet.

Jenna Riche is a senior special and elementary education major on the UWODT. She’s been dancing since elementary school and has been a member of the team since her freshman year.

“I’ve been to nationals one time, 2019. I remember feeling overwhelmed in the best way possible. I had no clue what to expect but being under the lights with so many judges and spectators felt amazing. Our leaders had led us through the event and helped us to learn the ropes.”

Riche told the Advanced-Titan there was something that made this season feel special.

“The girls, hands down. We knew exactly how to have fun and how to work hard. I often left practice smiling because of our fun but being fulfilled because of our work. I looked forward to seeing their smiling faces everyday and looked forward to every bonding moment we had. They made everything worth it.”

“Leading up to the competition was nerve wracking. Having spring break just a week or so before made for a big break. The dancers had time off which was scary, but every dancer came back determined and ready to fight and that fight didn’t stop until the moment we stopped dancing.”

“Walking into the venue feels like a movie. There are cheer and dance teams everywhere marking routines and throwing stunts, teams are playing music everywhere you go, and every team looks ready to fight. The competition room is dark with tons of lights and you can feel the fight in that room, and we were ready to fight.”

That fight paid off for the girls this year.

“Waiting for awards was definitely intense, but I was eager to hear the results. I could feel my heart racing but being around my teammates and squeezing their hands made everything feel amazing. They made it all worth it.”