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MHS dance squad looking to make history
Times photo: Anthony Wahl The Monroe High School dance teams Hanna Knutson, in blue, and Sadie Swenson, in pink, perform during halftime of a recent boys basketball game.
MONROE - The Monroe High School dance team will look to make history this weekend.

The Monroe dance team will compete in the southern regional competition at 10 a.m. Saturday in Watertown, and is in pursuit of the team's first trip to state.

Monroe, which is in its third year with a dance team, will compete in the hip-hop and jazz categories. The top three teams in each category will advance to state Feb. 5 at La Crosse. Monroe just missed a trip to state last year finishing fourth with their hip-hop and jazz routines.

"We have high hopes," Monroe dance team coach Briana Cleary said. "We definitely want to make it in one category. We are hoping for state in both."

The regional Saturday will include 40 dance teams, but they are split into divisions based on enrollment. Monroe is in Division 2 with enrollments of 1,000 or less. Monroe is one of seven schools in the Division 2 hip-hop competition. The Cheesemakers will perform a 21⁄2-minute hip-hop routine to a mix of rap and new hip-hop songs.

Cleary said the dance team has been working on perfecting routines since November.

The jazz routine Monroe will perform "A Drop in the Ocean," also a 21⁄2-minute routine.

Monroe has 14 dancers on the team including 13 females and one male. There are 12 returning dancers. However, compared to some of the competition, the Cheesemakers are still newcomers.

"We are competing against schools who have had teams for 20 and 30 years," Cleary said.

Cleary said the dance team has benefited from the exposure of seeing other schools routines at the regional. Monroe has a history of success in Watertown. Monroe finished first in the jazz category at the Watertown Invite earlier this year. Cleary along with volunteer Kathryn Stankivitz are looking forward to Saturday.

"They have got a lot of motivation from that," Cleary said of the first-place jazz finish at the Watertown Invite. "That pumped us up."