On January 2 Illinois took on Mississippi State at the Reliaquest Bowl in Tampa before a crowd 35,797. The fans were also treated to routines by 698 dancers – including 37 from Blaine HS. “It was a really cool experience,” said Bengals co-captain Kendall Isaacson.
On January 2 Illinois took on Mississippi State at the Reliaquest Bowl in Tampa before a crowd 35,797. The fans were also treated to routines by 698 dancers – including 37 from Blaine HS.
“It was a really cool experience,” said Bengals co-captain Kendall Isaacson.
The Bengals got the chance to display their dance moves in pregame and halftime shows at Raymond James Stadium.
“For them to be in the bowl game, pretty big deal,” said Blaine coach Katrina Develice.
The young dancers came away with many Kodak moments from the trip.
“It was definitely one of my favorite experiences I’ve had on this team, for sure,” Isaacson said. “I know it’s something a lot of girls look forward to, since a lot of dancers will basically get only one opportunity in our four years to go, unless it happens to fall on your freshman and senior year.”
“It’s a really cool environment to be a part of because there’s just so many people watching and it’s something we’re not used to,” said Alayna Kulas, Blaine’s other co-captain. “Obviously as a dancer you have a lot of eyes on you a lot of the time, but not in that big of a stadium. It was really cool to see everyone and just perform at such a big event.”
Said Isaacson: “I was like the first dancer out on the field out of everyone, so that was like the coolest thing for me to experience.”
Going to sun-drenched Florida was definitely a blast, but the Bengals put in plenty of practice time in Tampa to choreograph and hone their routines.
“When we’re there the practices are four hours every morning, except for one day,” Isaacson said. “Then game day of course. So we definitely put in a lot of work. A lot of early mornings too.”
“They actually did very well,” Develice said. “A lot of them do very good on the performance floor so I think they just had that confidence.”
The Bengals contingent spent a week in Florida and did get a chance to check out some of the state’s hot spots.
“We did a lot of fun things,” Kulas said. “We got to go on a dinner cruise. We went to Disney World and Busch Gardens, and then we also got to go to Clearwater Beach.”
“They did fund raise a little bit,” Develice said. “A lot of it was paid for on their own, but we did do a little bit of Cub bagging and things like that.”
On their flight back to the Twin Cities, the Bengals were rerouted to Omaha because of snow and ice at MSP.
Said Kulas: “Apparently a plane before us slid off the runway and into a snowbank.”
The prep dance season runs from October to February – and the Bengals are now focused on getting ready for what they hope will be a successful finish.
“Of course our goal for the end of the season is to go onto sections and perform really well and place in the top three and make it onto the state tournament at the Target Center,” Develice said. “That’s always our goal.”