BOUNTIFUL – Practice makes perfect, and the Bountiful High Mandonelles have had plenty of practice at winning.
The team swept last week’s drill state competition, winning the top spot in the military, dance and character categories. This makes the sixth straight state title win for the team, as well as their 17th overall state title win.
Even with that many victories, however, they’re careful not to get cocky.
“It was very stressful, but very exciting,” said coach Jan Whittaker. “The girls are thrilled. They don’t want to be the team to not win.”
The team actually improved on their region victory at the state meet, winning first with the character performance instead of second place. The dance dramatized the lives of various insects, including butterflies and grasshoppers.
“We had a few timing difficulties at region, but at state they executed it really well,” she said.
Whittaker also believes that the location also gave the performance an edge over the competition.
“It reads a little bit better in the bigger arena,” she said. “We also had such great crowd support. It was almost a party atmosphere.”
Whittaker’s favorite moment, however, was the team’s military performances. This part of the competition was based on military maneuvers, and requires perfect timing and synchronization from every drill team member.
“They went out and just nailed it,” said Whittaker. “I loved how well they performed.”
The team works on achieving that precision through months of practice, guided by Whitaker, co-coach Malorie Allred and assistant coach Angie Bohn. The team started recording practices this year, using them to show the team where they’re out of step on a frame-by-frame basis.
“We break it down to minute counts,” she said. “We’ve learned how to clean our routines really well.”
According to Whittaker, however, that’s only one element of the team’s continued success.
“There’s just so many factors that go into it,” she said. “You have to have a creative idea, work for nine months on those three routines, and you need to have talented dancers you can take to another level.”
The next level the Mandonelles will be heading towards is the national competition, which will be held the end of February in Florida. After that, the girls will start preparing for their spring show, and once that’s done they’ll move right into practicing for next year’s state competition.
For the moment, though, the team will get to slow down a little.
“It’s exciting to win,” said Whittaker. “But it’s a relief to have it be over.”