by Catherine Garrett
OREM–Under new coach – and former Bountiful Mandonelle dancer – Kelli Briggs, the Bountiful High drill team won the 5A state championship Feb. 2 at Utah Valley University, sweeping the Military, Dance and Character categories. It was the second consecutive title for Bountiful, who had won 18 championships under former coach Jan Whittaker.
“Winning state just felt fantastic. It was pure joy,” Briggs said. “I know my girls deserved that win for their complete and total commitment three hours a day for the past nine months. It’s exhilarating that the judges felt the same way.”
Bountiful came into state having swept all the categories at the Region 5 competition as well. “The season was fairly competitive with Viewmont, but our girls worked really hard,” Briggs said. “I truly believed we could take state, but knew the girls had to execute like they do in practice and overcome the nerves of the state competition.”
Kali Breckenridge, Brooklyn Farr and Sarah Hawkes were named All-State, while Annie Merill placed first in the Drill Down and Bailey Thomas finished third.
Briggs was also part of two state championship teams in 2009 and 2010 during her years as a member of the Mandonelles.
“In high school, you are so involved in your own bubble, so it was great to win back then, but as a coach, you feel like you’ve won on a much larger scale, as I’m just so excited to see the payoff for them,” Briggs said. “These girls danced sick and injured and fought through a lot of other adversities to win this title.”
Briggs was hired last spring for an “incredible” opportunity to fill her former coach’s shoes. “I was very blessed to have everyone stay with me, and though it did take some time to build trust during the transition, we eventually found our team unity and it made all the difference,” she said.
Others on the 2017-18 Mandonelles squad are Madi Acord, Sydney Alvey, Ivie Auger, Danielle Bailey, Charley Benedict, Mya Crowell, Jenny Cruz, Olivia Devey, Shantelle Edwards, McKirey Erickson, Sarah Ferrin, Briquel Haslam, Elle Hines, Lizzie Howe, Emma Hughes, Nikki Jones, Madi Jordan, Alexa Leishman, Karli Ludwig, Katelynn McGuire, Sydney Peck, Kali Roark, Jessica Robinson, Peyton Shingleton, Kena Short, Aleese Smith, Ashley St. John, Sydney Walton, Hailey Whitman and Josette Wolfgramm.
“I absolutely love, love, love these girls,” Briggs said. “They worked so hard and I’m so incredibly proud of them.”
Briggs has been assisted on the coaching staff this season by Hannah Duran and Brilyn Miller, along with choreographer Nikki Black.
The Mandonelles’ final performance this year is scheduled for halftime of the Bountiful High’s boys basketball game against Woods Cross Feb. 16.