By Megan Dierberger
[email protected]

After placing in the top half of teams in the Open Pom and Open Jazz National Semifinals, the St. Ben’s Dance Team advanced to the finals on Sunday Jan. 14 at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex in
Orlando, Fla. The CSB dance team finished third in pom and sixth in jazz to cap off a successful season. It was a big improvement from their showing just a year ago, as CSB placed ninth in open pom and 14th in open jazz.
The strong performance at Nationals checked off every preseason goal.
“You literally have the two minutes and you control what you do out on the stage,” head coach Anne Sumangil ’99 said. “And then you have to walk off and hope that the dance and the content will score higher than the other teams.”
Before the dancers took the trip to Orlando, the dance squad had only two previous chances to test themselves. They competed at the “Spirit of America” dance competition Jan. 6 at the Minneapolis Convention Center where they only saw a few teams they would face at Nationals.
The team also performed at the University of Minnesota’s “Best of the Best.”
“Once you get [those early tests] out of the way, you get the nerves out of the way before the real competition begins,” Sumangil said.Sumangil started coaching in 2013 after CSB placed first in pom and had big shoes to fill. Experience was on her side, however, as she was part of the first competitive dance team at St. Ben’s in the 90’s. In addition, the first competitive dance team ended up winning first place at Nationals that year. This season’s strong finish added another notch to the coach’s legacy in the CSB dance program.
“Later in the season it wasn’t even a question if we could get through the dances, it was more of ‘now we did that part, what else can we work on?’” CSB junior captain Caitlin Harrel said.
Now that the bar has been set, the dancers are ready to improve even more next year. The St. Ben’s Dance Team will use this jump in rankings for the upcoming season.
“We will definitely go into the next season with more confidence,” Harrell said. “We had beaten teams where we had never even come close to.”
With Sumangil’s CSB Dance Team history, she will be sure to lead her team there.
“I know what it feels like to win first place, and I’m hoping to give this to the team and give them that opportunity,” Sumangil said. “The fact of the matter is that every year the team is pushing to be better and better.”
The dance team will hold tryouts in April, in hopes to help them rise to the top.

The CSB Dance Team and coaches smile after a defining placement at Nationals at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports.