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The Student News Site of Millard West High School

The Catalyst

The Student News Site of Millard West High School

The Catalyst

The Student News Site of Millard West High School

The Catalyst

Cats at the castle

Wildcats win big at Nationals after taking on a new style of dance
Elaine Amenta
Cheering with excitement, senior Elaine Amenta leads the dance team outside after completing their Game Day routine for the first time at Nationals. For the first time ever in Millard West history, the dance team competed in the Game Day division and brought home a white jacket. “Our Game Day routine looked completely different than when we first learned, because we incorporated more signs and moves since then,” Amenta said. “Before Nationals, the routine placed pretty well at local competitions but we were definitely not expecting a white jacket.”

Every year during the first week of February, the Millard West dance team heads to the ESPN Worldwide of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida for a chance to come home as National Champions. 

Each year the team competes in Small Varsity Hip Hop and Small Varsity Jazz. The 2023-2024 season was a little bit different. They took on the same divisions as usual but also added a new routine to compete in the Small Varsity Division one Game Day. 

With this being the first year they ever competed in this division, the team was skeptical of how competing would go, but during the first few competitions of the season, the team placed well. Knowing this before heading into Nationals, head coach Caroline Unger and assistant coach Lauren Hoff were confident in the team. 

“In the heart of the competition season, the team practiced 11.5 hours each week,” Unger said. “On Monday it was an hour and a half, Tuesday we practiced for two hours and 45 minutes, Wednesday we practiced for two hours and 45 minutes, Thursday it was an hour and a half, and on Sunday we practiced for three hours. The team’s hard work paid off, and made it to finals in all three categories. We were so excited to receive 1st Place in Small Varsity Division one Game Day, 6th Place in Small Varsity Jazz, and 13th Place in Small Varsity Hip Hop. This was the first National championship for the Millard West Dance Team since 2009.”

The team had many expectations for themselves this season after earning a third place title in Jazz at the 2023 National competition. 

“Our practices can be very hard, but maintaining positive energy throughout is what makes it work well,” junior Isabella Wanninger said. “We had many changes that we had to learn to adapt to, but our one constant was our team and the love we have for each other. Our motto was ‘In It for Us’ and I don’t think there’s a better way to explain our dedication and hard work throughout the season.”

Throughout the 2023-2024 season, the team was led by solo senior Elaine Amenta. Amenta has been the only member of the team from the class of 2024 since her freshman year. 

“It is so impressive we won because we were competing against experienced teams and we basically went into the category blind,” Amenta said. “Throughout the season, being the only senior, I have helped lead the team by encouraging all of them. I am also the captain so my opinion decides what we wear and I keep everyone accountable. With this being my fourth and final year, I just wanted to enjoy it but coming home with a white jacket is even better.”

Although the team is small, the 2023-2024 team had a huge impact on the MWDT and the legacy they leave behind them as the first team to ever win the Game Day division.

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About the Contributor
Delaney Lueck, Features Editor
Delaney is a senior and this is her first year on the CATalyst staff, but third year with journalism. In Yearbook, she has had a past role of Copy-Editor. Outside of journalism, Delaney enjoys taking pictures, spending time with friends, traveling, being with family, and being a part of the track team.

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