CARLSBAD — Once again, the Lancer Dancers are queens of the hip-hop world.
The Carlsbad High School team shredded the competition on Sunday to claim the Universal Dance Association (UDA) national championship at Disney World in Orlando, Fla.
Competing in the Medium Division, the Carlsbad girls broke Westmoore (Okla.) High School’s three-year stranglehold on the hip-hop title, CHS coach Laura Nares said. CHS also took third in the jazz competition matching its finish last year in the division.
“We’re pretty proud and it’s an amazing feeling,” Nares explained. “We’re on cloud nine.”
In addition, the Lancer Dancers were without their lone senior, Delena Cruz, who was injured. Despite missing the talented dancer, CHS put down a winning performance on the backs of seven juniors, five sophomores and three freshmen.
The theme of the finals was Michael Jackson, which the Carlsbad squad danced to legendary songs such as “Billie Jean” and “Black and White.”
“We came with nine new members that had never been on the nationals dance floor,” Nares said. “I had to plan differently and get them in the right mode. They made it happen.”
Carlsbad has long been a powerhouse in dance, as the Lancer Dancers have gobbled up nine UDA national titles, two USA Dance championships and one world title (last year) since 2001.
Despite the injury, Nares said Cruz acted as an assistant coach during the five-day trip to Florida.
As for the seven rookies on the squad, Nares said mental preparation was key in establishing confidence and executing the routines. Nevertheless, the bright lights on the biggest stage presents another obstacle routine training cannot replicate.
“I took the route that we have to believe in ourselves,” Nares said. “We can only control what we can control. That way they can focus on the positive. It’s a totally different experience from any competition that I’ve been to.”
Of course, the Lancer Dancers have little time to soak in their national championship. The girls got back in the practice room this week to prepare to defend their title at the USA Championships next month in Anaheim.
The championship squad consists of Maddie Dufault, Cloe Commandeur, Emily Padilla, Reagan Phillips, Maddie A’Bell, Maya Wong, Taryn Kullmann, Lily Dodge
Ella Pines, Rachel Whitehead, Lindsay Foster (captain) Delena Cruz (co-captain), Sherrie Yasukochi (co-captain), Eliza Cervantes and Samara Anderson.
“It was a group effort,” Nares said. “We had a lot of kids who just put themselves out there. They know what it takes.”
Looking ahead, though, Nares has a loaded squad returning next year as only Cruz graduates.
“It’s definitely in the back of my mind,” the coach said. “I’ve got so many young kids that stepped up to the plate. I definitely know that we are going to be up there next year, but I am also just living in this moment and taking it all in for this team.”
Steve Puterski covers Carlsbad and Vista. For tips or story ideas, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @StevePuterski.