Dancin’ to the top: Lake Washington squad wins state titles for second straight year

Kangs earn crowns in both Military and Pom categories.

Lake Washington High’s dance team members include Sydney Wickman, Kaia Grobstock, Angela Johnson, Kayla Brodie, Riley Sampson, Maddie Lawerence, Ella Bettinger, Reese Latin, Maddie Burns, Malia Berbano, Sage Boyd, Taara Elahi, Arisa Brown, Sophie Crane, Rina Suzuki, Arianne Green, Anna Rongerude, Anna Lewis, Paiton Jensen, Phoebe Mangouras, Annabelle Martin, Elle Seeler, Sarah Vincent, Jaeda McCormick and Sam Tsubota. Coaches are Lindsey Ryan, Amy Moorhead, Jeanne Gloudemans, Jennifer Hahn and Kayla Torimoto. Courtesy photo

Lake Washington High’s dance team members include Sydney Wickman, Kaia Grobstock, Angela Johnson, Kayla Brodie, Riley Sampson, Maddie Lawerence, Ella Bettinger, Reese Latin, Maddie Burns, Malia Berbano, Sage Boyd, Taara Elahi, Arisa Brown, Sophie Crane, Rina Suzuki, Arianne Green, Anna Rongerude, Anna Lewis, Paiton Jensen, Phoebe Mangouras, Annabelle Martin, Elle Seeler, Sarah Vincent, Jaeda McCormick and Sam Tsubota. Coaches are Lindsey Ryan, Amy Moorhead, Jeanne Gloudemans, Jennifer Hahn and Kayla Torimoto. Courtesy photo

They’re champions again.

For the second consecutive year, Lake Washington High’s dance squad won a pair of titles at the WIAA Dance and Drill State Championships on March 24 at the Yakima Sundome.

In the 3A Military category, LW scored 268.30 points and Bonney Lake took a close second with 267.80; in the Pom competition, LW notched 276.70 points and Capital finished second with 271.80.

During events, the girls’ routines are two minutes long, and the Kangs unleash their maximum effort the whole way.

“Our keys to success this season were definitely trust, and learning how to channel our inner fighter,” said Kayla Brodie. “The majority of feelings, I believe, is adrenaline and excitement — our team seems to thrive off of those things.”

Added Riley Sampson: “Being apart of the LW dance team is fully incredible and an unmatched experience. We all have a very tight-knit bond and know the balance of working hard and having fun. It is amazing to love what you do and while growing and improving at the same time.”

Lindsey Ryan, a former LW dance team member and 13th year Kang coach, said when her girls take the floor in competitions and training, it’s all about “Get It” — which stands for grateful, efficient, trust, infinite and tough.

The squad — which features 25 dancers from freshmen to seniors — focuses on the here and now and pushes to be the best they can be, Ryan noted, adding that winning doesn’t happen by accident, as the girls strive for excellence each time out.

Sampson said the squad thrived under the guidance of its coaching staff.

“They instilled a strong work ethic and unbreakable focus within us that allowed us to achieve the best versions of ourselves,” she said.

It’s been a long road for the girls, from tryouts last May to practices and competitions through March 24, and they put in copious hours to prepare for their time in the spotlight. During the summer, they practiced seven hours a week, and that rose to 15 hours a week leading up to state.

Sydney Wickman described what it’s like for the Kangs to strut their stuff on the dance floor with spectators and other squads looking on.

“Being in the midst of competition can go so many ways for different people. I know that the more experience you gain, the easier it is not to be nervous,” she said. “Obviously there are always some nerves, but our team works on being confident and together when we walk into a comp so that our nerves are calmed. It’s all about focusing on your team and not your competition. Try to beat yourself, rather than others, every competition.”

Ryan said she learned life lessons during her time on the squad and she wanted to share her experiences as a coach.

One key aspect to dance and life, she said, is “always striving to improve, and not worry about what others are doing. Find your personal best.”

There’s more to the LW dance program than winning state titles, Ryan added.

“Being on this team is like a sisterhood because we’ve become so close over the 11 months of working together, all working hard while still becoming friends and enjoying the journey,” she said.

Added Kaia Grobstok: “I’ve been on many different sports teams, but I’ve never experienced so much love within a group of girls. Watching each and every teammate grow as a person and dancer in the past four years is the best thing I️ could’ve asked for and this team has made my high school experience beyond incredible.”

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