THOMASVILLE — Thirteen is a welcome number for the Thomasville High School competitive dance team.
The 13 members were awarded their state championship rings for taking the Class A-AA state dance crown.
THS athletic director Chris Merritt said dance coach Allison Bundrick came to him two years ago about forming a competitive dance squad. He asked her if she was sure this was something she wanted to do.
“Yes, and my girls are up to the challenge,” Merritt recalled. “Fast forward two years, you’re state champs.”
Thomasville won the championship February 13 at Columbus Convention and Trade Center, the first time it was held for classes A and AA. Thomasville also won the high kick division on its way to an overall championship.
Bundrick thanked the school for believing in the girls and giving them a chance to compete. She also thanked the parents “for allowing me to steal your children for hours and hours on end.”
“But most importantly, to the dancers,” she said.
The team went to an invitational last year and while they didn’t return with any trophies or medals, they learned a lot, Bundrick said.
“I had a conversation with them last spring and said, ‘how bad do you want this? You’ve got to decide because it’s going to be a heavy price to pay in terms of your time and commitment in order to meet the challenge next year.’ Every single one of them said, without question, we’re ready.”
The challenges went beyond physical, Bundrick said. Thanks in part to the pandemic, those hurdles were also mental and emotional. They didn’t know if they were going to get shut down from one day to the next.
“As a result, this is what you see — a state championship,” Bundrick said. “I’m so proud of each and every one.”
The team members were captain Caliyah Sinkfield, co-captains Riann Duggan, Carly House and Sara Strickland, Mallory Bennett, Kelcee Robinson, Nykiya Virgil, Ava White, McKenna Connery, Abby Coppedge, Elyse Giles, Sarah Grace Young and Katie Beth Young.
“You have started a new tradition for everybody after you to live up to,” Merritt said. “You should be extremely proud of that.”