The Cal State Long Beach Dance Team has performed its way to a national title at the 2001 College Dance Team National Championships in Orlando, Fla. at Walt Disney World's Wide World of Sports facility.
Competing in the largest schools division (Division IA), the 49er squad outscored the University of Nebraska at Lincoln and Michigan State University, which finished second and third, respectively, to capture the top prize.
The win gave the CSULB Dance Team its first national championship since 1995, and it is the fifth national crown the team has garnered in its 20-year history.
"It has been a great year," said Rey Lozano, coach of the CSULB Dance Team for the last 10 years. "Of the teams I've had here at Long Beach, this is my favorite of all time. This is a nice team. There are no egos here. There are very talented dancers who work extremely well together."
A "remarkable achievement" is how one team member described the first-place finish.
"There were a lot of talented teams from major universities all across the country," said Missy Pendergrass, one of four co-captains for the Dance Team. "We worked very, very hard and put a lot of trust in our coach. We're also very dedicated to each other and knew that whatever happened, we would do our best."
Other team members include Liza Bugarin, Laura Gauley, Isidora Goreshter, Lindsay Hower, Amanda Johanson, Jenny Jones, Shandon Kolberg, Marla McReynolds, Nicole Niestemski, Erin Perry, Shannon Reznick, Megan Salisbury, Jessica Tores and Shania Weston.
The last couple of years the CSULB squad was forced to compete in the lower division because of a rule that said Division IA competitors must have football teams. That rule, however, was abandoned at this year's competition, and Lozano, who believed his team should be competing in the upper division, took the opportunity to move the team up.
The move turned out to be a good one.
"Of the 16 teams in the finals, we had to perform first and that can be very difficult, especially since we didn't have to perform in the semifinal round," said Lozano, noting that the team received an automatic berth to the finals based on its video submission. "The girls were so 'on' in their performance, and that was clearly reflected in the judges' scoring."
In a written summary of the 49er squad's performance, the judges wrote: "The team covered the floor nicely and the ripple switch leap combination showcased this team's great abilities. Long Beach demonstrated a variety of great formation changes and coverage of the floor. From their high level of technique section to their fast-paced, hip-hop section, this team showed it all."
The CSULB Dance Team's winning performance is scheduled to be televised on ESPN or espn2 on March 22.
| Public Affairs Offices/Campus News
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