Alison Karsten was surprised when she heard the news.
Karsten and her fellow Sycamore Spartanettes already knew they had qualified for the first-ever IHSA state finals for competitive dance in Bloomington today by finishing fifth in Saturday’s Minonk Sectional.
But the more noteworthy announcement came Tuesday when the IHSA announced the performance order for today’s preliminary round. Coach Alyssa Pawola told the team via email that Sycamore’s performance time of 3:15 p.m. would allow the Spartanettes to compete at state and travel back to DeKalb for their performance during the Sycamore-DeKalb boys/girls basketball doubleheader.
“I was really excited,” Karsten said. “I honestly knew the chances of us being able to do both were pretty slim, so it’s really good that it works out.”
For the past few weeks, Sycamore worried about the possibility of having to choose between competing in the state competition or performing in front of the biggest crowd of the year at Northern Illinois University’s Convocation Center. After Sycamore qualified Saturday, the school put in a request to the IHSA to have its performance time earlier in the schedule.
The IHSA appears to have considered Sycamore’s situation, giving the Spartanettes the first spot in the Class 2A/3A afternoon session at 3:15.
Then the planning started.
After a short practice at school Thursday afternoon, Sycamore drove to Bloomington. To get one final tuneup session in before both performances today, Sycamore rented space at a local YMCA and will practice there this morning.
“It is pretty hectic because we are doing different routines, but I think we’re up for the challenge,” Karsten said. “They’re two of the biggest events of the year. It’s kind of best of both worlds.”
After completing their routine for judges this afternoon, the Spartanettes immediately will head back to DeKalb and perform at halftime of the boys varsity game.
By any measure, it’s going to be a whirlwind 24 hours for the Sycamore dance team. And its goal is to make the weekend even more complicated by qualifying for Saturday’s championship round of the state finals back in Bloomington.
“Even as chaotic as it is, we really are hoping to be able to continue on Saturday,” Pawola said. “I’ve actually seen more excitement come through and more motivation. They’re really starting to believe that they can accomplish big goals.”