KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Stephens College competitive dance team earned an at-large bid to the inaugural NAIA Competitive Cheer & Dance National Championship, the NAIA national office announced Sunday evening.
Led by first-year head competitive dance coach and dance faculty member Paige Porter, the Starlets will return to nationals for the second consecutive year, but this year will be the first that competitive cheer & dance is a fully-sponsored NAIA National Championship.
“While competitive cheer & dance is new to intercollegiate athletics, we are certainly putting our stamp on the sport with two consecutive trips to NAIA Nationals,” Director of Athletics Adam Samson said. “Under Paige’s direction, the team has constantly improved and we are peaking at the right time. The National Championship bid is a culmination of all the hard work our group has put in since the beginning of the school year.”
The National Championship begins on Friday, March 10 in Oklahoma City at the Abe Lemons Arena on the campus of Oklahoma City University. The preliminary round will begin at 6:45 p.m. on Friday and will account for 25 percent of the overall score. Finals will start at 12:15 p.m. on Saturday afternoon.
The field of competition for dance is set for 12 teams total, leaving eight at-large bids after the four Regional champions earned an automatic bid. Grand View (Iowa) won the Southeast Regional to earn the automatic bid for the Starlets’ region. The other three automatic bids went to Midland (Neb.), Aquinas (Mich.) and Oklahoma City.
The Starlets were awarded the seventh at-large bid after scoring 77.540 at Saturday's Regional. Three other opponents from the Southeast Regional also earned an at-large bid to the Championship. These teams included Missouri Baptist, Lindenwood-Belleville (Ill.) and Central Methodist (Mo.).
The Starlets will face a similar set of competitors as last year as eight opponents from the 2016 NAIA Dance Invitational made it into the 2017 field. The complete field of competitors for the 2017 NAIA National Championship is: Grand View (Iowa) – 90.260, Midland (Neb.) – 89.875, Aquinas (Mich.) – 84.710, Oklahoma City – 84.300, Missouri Baptist – 88.810, Morningside (Iowa) – 83.312, Baker (Kan.) – 83.041, St. Ambrose (Iowa) – 81.710, Lindenwood-Belleville (Ill.) – 79.100, Siena Heights (Mich.) – 78.130, Stephens (Mo.) – 77.540, and Central Methodist (Mo.) – 76.030.
The NAIA is the only collegiate athletics association to offer a national championship in competitive dance, and it is the first, along with cheer, to earn national championship status within the NAIA in a span of 22 years.
This article is republished from the Stephens Stars website.
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