WCHS Pantherettes

Washington Community High School Pantherettes dance team members include (front, from left) Seniors Lindsey Kail, Hannah Walker, Kati Coughlon, Sophia Gresham, Savannah Krey. (second row, from left) Taylor Huett, Hayley Jackson, Lucy Puentes, Ella Craghead, Allisyn Kirchgessner, Sammy Puent, Bella Limas, (third row, from left) Natalie Blackwell, Claire Uftring, Sydney Milestone, Kara Tiesman, Cecelia Sandberg, Ellie Redlingshafer, Emma Beebe (fourth row, from left) Lily Beck, Paige Barber, Marlie Woolever, Ruth Dupree, Adison Walker and Alyx Schupp. (Not pictured: Jenna Norder). 

For the first time in WCHS history, the Varsity Pantherettes Dance Team are state champions. The team began their season last May and are led by head coach Lauren Metz, assistant coach Brittany Hofer, and Junior Varsity coach Josie Wudtke.

The Varsity team competed in the virtual Illinois Drill Team Association’s (IDTA) state finals competition on Saturday, March 13 and received first place in the AAA Jazz category.

Several IDTA senior soloists also qualified for the state competition including Lindsey Kail, Savannah Krey, Sophia Gresham, and Kati Coughlon. These dancers qualified their routines and competed their solos at the state competition.

For the first time in seven years, team captains Lindsey and Savannah both advanced their solos to the top 10 IDTA soloists in the state, competing for the title of Miss IDTA. They finished in tenth and seventh place, making Pantherette history.

The team also virtually competed in the 2A division with the Illinois High School Association (IHSA). They competed against thirteen teams in their sectional competition on February 27 and finished in third place. This placement qualified their Jazz routine for the IHSA state finals competition on March 6. The team finished in fifteenth place out of 30 routines, which is the best placement that Washington has ever received in the highly competitive 2A category.

The Junior Varsity team also had a very successful competition season. They qualified both of their routines for IDTA state at their first regional competition on January 30 and received the second highest score in JV history. The team’s Jazz routine placed first at the January 30, February 6 and February 20 virtual regional competitions. The team competed against three other teams and finished second in the Jazz category at the state finals competition. Their Pom Dance routine placed first at the January 30 and February 6 competitions, and second at the February 20 competition, finishing third at IDTA state.

This success is truly exciting, especially given all of the difficult restrictions that this year brought. Rather than a normal Pantherette season with in-school summer practices and attending UDA Dance Camp, the Pantherette coaches planned their own dance camp, and the girls practiced outside in small groups - even dragging wooden turn boards onto the field to keep up with their turn conditioning. The Pantherettes also practiced throughout the fall, wearing masks and maintaining social distancing. From mid-November through mid-January, the Pantherettes were unable to practice in-person, but they continued to practice together virtually, moving aside furniture or cleaning out their garages. Once returning to in-person practices, the dancers worked hard to stay motivated for an entirely virtual season. While this was no easy feat, the dancers continued to persevere, making Pantherette history and earning their first ever AAA IDTA State Championship Trophy.

The Pantherettes begin their season with spring tryouts in April, and the JV and Varsity teams practice over the summer to prepare for UDA dance camp at Illinois State University. When the school year begins in August, the teams prepare for their community night performance during the WCHS homecoming week and host a little girls’ clinic. The competitive teams are chosen in October and they begin competing with IDTA and IHSA in December. Normally, the Pantherettes dance season ends in February competing in the IDTA and IHSA state finals competition. Not only do the Pantherettes perform at the basketball games and competitions, they participate in various volunteer activities to get involved in their community.

Congratulations to all of the Pantherette dancers and coaches for having such a successful and memorable dance season!