FRANKLIN - Members Franklin High School's dance team walked away from the Feb. 3 state competition as champions, winning first places for both their pom and jazz routines. They are now looking toward the Contest of Champions national competition in early March.

"I think we were all in shock. It was unbelievable," said coach Sarah Heinevetter. "We are all so proud of each other and ecstatic, but I think it is still sinking in."

The team won first place at the regional competition to qualify for state. The top six teams from the three different regions in Wisconsin make it to the state competition.

Though the team competes in other categories throughout the year, it only takes the jazz and pom routines to state.

Each year, judges from all over the state certified by the Wisconsin Cheer and Dance Association critique the state-qualifying teams based on dance technique, uniformity, formations, choreography and showmanship.

"The competition this year was very tough," Heinevetter said. "We knew we would be in the mix, but we had no idea we would be winning one, let alone both, categories. Much of our hardest competition is from up north around the Green Bay area, and they are always pushing us to improve."

Continuing a successful streak

The team has a history of winning high marks at the state competition, and has won 12 state championships since the program started in 2007.

Although the team's competition season does not begin until October, when it competes at the Milwaukee Bucks Competition, it starts practicing for the season in June.

"Our key to success is having confidence in what we do and 'practice makes perfect.' We have a great feeder program that gets the team ready every year. We do not have a JV team, so it is important for the freshman to come in ready to compete at such a high level. Practicing hard, believing in what we are doing and believing in each other as a team takes us a long way," said Heinevetter.

Dancing into the future

The team's competition season will continue at the Contest of Champions, hosted at Walt Disney World in Florida. The team leaves for the competition March 1.

In 2016, the team won a variety of awards at the contest, leaving ranked 22nd in the nation.

Looking forward, even past nationals, Heinevetter said the team continues to set its sights high.

"Our goal is to continue the excellence of the program that started back in 2007," Heinevetter said. "We will have a very young team next year, so continuing to work on our technique to stay at a high level will be a focus of ours."

To see the team's winning routines at state, visit the Facebook page, www.facebook.com/saberpoms.

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