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Azurettes win again

Mar 29, 2017 12:06PM ● Published by Greg James

The Azurettes wait patiently for the final results to be revealed at the state drill team competition. (Rylee Southwick/CH Drill team)

Gallery: Azurettes win again [2 Images] Click any image to expand.

By Greg James |  gregj@mycityjournals.com 

The past year for members of the Azurettes, Copper Hills High School’s drill team, has been one filled with stress, anger and jubilation. The team capped off this tumultuous year with a state championship.

“Winning state is such an indescribable feeling, and to do it with my best friends makes it so much sweeter.” Azurette team president Rylee Southwick said. “They always say it is lonely at the top, and this so true of drill.”

The top is where the Azurettes landed. At the state drill competition, held Feb. 4 at Utah Valley University, the Azurettes swept first place in all three categories: dance, kick and military. They were named 5A state champion for the fifth straight season.

Being a state champion takes commitment.

Southwick sacrificed her time to be a part of the team. She retired early on Friday nights so she could be ready for practice early Saturday mornings, arrived early in the morning and stayed after school for practice. The team trained nearly 20 hours a week beginning last spring for this year’s show.

“It added up to nearly 580 plus hours,” Southwick said. “I can see how we can get burned out, especially as a senior. Our team is full of such incredible talent; it blows me away. This year was definitely the most rewarding because we fought so hard to come back from the accusations we got last year.”

After their state championship in 2016 several opposing schools accused the Azurettes of cheating. Among the accusations were judge tampering and costume and routine changes. Drill team coach Shannon Mortensen denied the allegations and stood steadfast behind her team and its decisions.

The team was cleared of any wrongdoing, but Mortensen was suspended for the team's first competition this fall. The team was placed on probation and fined $1,500.

“She (Mortensen) taught us to never give up,” Southwick said. “Our goal this season was to walk off the floor knowing we did everything we could, and it does not matter what the outcome is because we left everything we had on the dance floor.”

Southwick started dancing when she was 2 years old. She said this year's routines involved a bunch of music mashed up into a presentation.

Drill routines are divided into three separate categories. This season they competed in military, dance and kick routines.

The Azurettes’ military routine combined athleticism with precision arm movements and formations. It is highlighted by the traditional forming of a capital C and H, the symbol of their school. It also included dancers running across the backs of their teammates.

The theme “The city’s gone green” highlighted the team's kick routine. The intricate motion and variety of kick sequences were not the only thing to catch the judges eye. Their bright green leggings and alien style leotard made the team stand out.

The dance routine included pirouettes, leaps and fouettes. The dance had multiple sets with change of pace and tempo. All required elements in drill team competitions.

At the state competition, Bingham placed second, Herriman third, Pleasant Grove fourth and Layton fifth. The Azurettes were also Region 3 champions and placed first at the Mustang Invitational and Bountiful Invitational.

Southwick was team president, and Sidney Blair and Talisha Crespin were captains; Madi Chinn, Baelie Smith and Nikki Burgon were co-captains; Marissa Rivera was VP of finance; Karly Devey was costume chair; Taylor Larson was VP of travel; and Tatiana Olmedo was secretary.

In spite of all the controversy, the team has already set out on repeating again next year. It holds auditions in March, and after a small break, it will prepare for a sixth straight championship. 

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