Jacksonville brings home state titles


Claire Van Aken, Staff Writer


The Jacksonville J’ettes brought home some serious hardware following their performances at the IDTA State Competition. As a team they competed in the AA Pom/Dance category and as well as the AA Lyrical/Contemporary category. These particular routines qualified for the state competition at their first regional competition in January.

On Friday, February 14, the team traveled to The BOS Convention Center in Springfield to cheer on two of their teammates in the preliminary round of solos. Ava Lahey and Ashley Haggerty both qualified for the competition at regionals weeks before. The preliminary round consisted of three pools, A, B, and C. The dancers were each in their selected pool based on average scores from their regional. This round of competition also made up of Illinois finest soloists, about 40 total. From here, the judges had to narrow it down to the top ten entries to re-compete the following morning. These ten ladies and gentlemen were now in the running to win Mr. or Miss IDTA. Haggerty and Lahey were both chosen as finalists. This resulted in successes for the individuals as Haggerty placed fourth in the state for her solo called “The Journey,” and Ava Lahey received the title of Miss IDTA and first place for her solo entitled, “Shallow,” which she choreographed herself.

Aside from the two seniors’ individual successes, the J’ette team was victorious after their two phenomenal performances at the State competition. The J’ettes took the floor early Saturday afternoon with their attention-grabbing lyrical routine. The tricks and skill level set the bar high for the rest of the AA category. Coaches Allyson Maul and Tiffany Hickox were moved to tears after watching their team on the state floor. Maul said, “It was the best they had ever done, and you could tell their passion and drive when they danced.” 

Later Saturday, the team had time to prepare for their fast-paced, Prince inspired Pom/Dance routine. This year, the J’ettes had the advantage of performing this dance in particular on several accounts. They not only qualified for IDTA State, but also IHSA State and finished in fourth place, breaking their own personal record at the IHSA level. Knowing this would be their final performance of the weekend, they took the floor with excitement and energy. The J’ettes used classic pom work along with purple and iridescent poms which made their theme stand out. Retired coach Jan Ryan shared, “I am so pleased that the current J’ette squad has continued the tradition of excellence and achievement that was started in 1980.” After their Pom/Dance performance, the videos of each routine were finally able to be shared online. The routines have each been watched over three-thousand times on Facebook. 

Jacksonville rounded out their night with several awards. The squad received state titles in AA Pom/Dance and AA Lyrical/Contemporary. The team has won with their Pom/Dance routine for three consecutive years now, and twice with Lyrical/Contemporary. As if two state titles weren’t enough for the hardworking group of young girls, Jacksonville was the recipient of the AA Grand Champion award. This award is given to every overall group of dancers in Junior High, Junior Varsity, Single A, Double A, and Triple A. The squad earned the highest average score of both routines they performed out of the entire AA division, which is something that they have not received before. 

The young group of girls have worked very hard this season and accomplished more than thought possible. Although there will not be any more competitions until next season, the Jacksonville J’ettes will be performing at the 1A basketball super-sectional basketball game on March 10 at the Bowl in Jacksonville. If you missed out watching the team, this is your last chance to watch and congratulate them on a fantastic season.