“Time’s Up” – The theme for ASU Dance Team’s journey to a historic win at The College Classic

A few short months later, ASU’s team made their way to Orlando, Florida to make their first appearance competing at The College Classic. This competition is relatively new to the collegiate dance world, beginning just five years ago.

There were 61 schools present at The College Classic this year. Caryl commented that “there were well-known universities that we were up against. Texas A&M, Baylor, Kansas State, Purdue… they all have established dance programs.”

ASU competed in Division 1A for both their pom and jazz routines – the highest division at the competition. Jazz was the most competitive style within the division, with 12 teams in the category alone.

“There was definitely pressure coming into the competition since this was our first time competing there and ASU is a highly-recognized name,” Anyaji said. “We knew it wasn’t going to be a walk in the park and we had a reputation to defend.”

After their performance in the semifinals on April 9, ASU’s jazz routine was in first place with a 90.92 score, just points ahead of defending champs, Texas A&M, with a 90.78. Their pom routine was in second place with a score of 88.76, just a point behind Kansas State University.

Caryl explained that “after the semifinals, we really tried to take everything that the judges told us and insert it into our routine for day two. We wanted to do everything that we possibly could to advance our lead.”

While some might be discouraged with a second place ranking, the ASU dancers didn’t allow that to affect their performance for the next day. They were determined to put in the work to do the best they could in both routines. Caryl laughed, saying that the team was “out practicing and working on changes in a parking lot until midnight.”

“We knew going into jazz finals, Texas A&M would bring their all,” Anyaji said. “We knew we had to step it up if we wanted to bring home the gold.”

For both routines, ASU was among the last two teams to compete in the categories they competed in. It’s a crucial placing since judges would see the two best routines in the division back-to-back before making their final decision for which team would win. Ultimately, ASU’s hard work paid off. After their second performance in jazz, they were able to advance their score from 90.92 to 93.02, a significant lead over Texas A&M’s final score of 91.24.

As for their pom routine, where they were a full point behind Kansas State after semifinals, they were able to close the gap between the final score, trailing Kansas’ 92.72 with a 92.42.

“I’m really proud to have increased our pom score by that much after semifinals and only be less than half a point behind Kansas,” Caryl said. “We proved that we belong here at this competition.”

Dave Sanchez, one of the founders of The College Classic, explained that ASU’s jazz routine was a pleasant surprise as opposed to others in the category.

“It was interesting that the routine was very quiet, for lack of a better term,” Sanchez explained. “The fact that they were able to command the room with a dance that begins and ends in such an understated way, it’s a difficult thing to do and they did it perfectly. ASU’s win over Texas A&M is a historic feat for this school’s dance program and should be celebrated. To come into this competition for the first time and defeat the defending champions is something to be proud of.”

ASU bringing home two medals from The College Classic after not competing for two years because of COVID-19 proves the passion and strength of the team. Reasons said that her experience with this team has been “a dream come true, I’m so grateful for everything that we’ve been able to accomplish.”

As Caryl reflected on the semester and the journey they have all been on, she recognized the hard work and dedication of her team.

“These girls aren’t just standing on the football or basketball sidelines to look pretty,” Caryl said. “These are real athletes who practice and train like any other sport. They are dedicated to this school’s athletics department and to the school itself. They’re constantly balancing so many things and are truly an exceptional group.”

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