State champ FHS dance team thinking national honors

Leading her Farragut High School dance team to a sixth TSSAA state championship in her ninth season as head coach, Adonia Adams’ girls claimed Small Varsity Pom state crown Nov. 12 at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro.

Aiming ever higher this weekend in Orlando, Adams’ team is looking for a top finish in Small Varsity Jazz and Pom during UDA National Dance Team Champion-ships, Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 4-5.

Alayna Robinson, FHS senior team captain, is making her seventh consecutive trip to nationals.

That counts her Farragut Middle School national trips, which resulted in Robinson contributing to FMS’s 2013 national championship in “Junior High Small Jazz.”

“We have a lot of the same team members from that [FMS national champion] team,” Robinson said. “We’re super excited. We’re hoping to get top three [nationally] this year. We’re really going for the win.

“We’ve been training for this non-stop. We’ve had 12 hours of practice in the last three days,” Robinson added on Jan. 27. “We’ve been going hard all [school] year long and we are really committed.”

Robinson and her FHS dance team finished seventh in Jazz and 14th in Pom last year in Orlando among “hundreds” of national competitors, Robinson said.

“We qualified for nationals in jazz when we went to camp, toward the end of July in Cincinnati, among a nine or 10-team field,” Adams said about finishing third in all combined dances.

Individually at that camp, “All six of our girls were chosen All-American,” Adams said. “Three at a time, they learn a routine and then perform it and get judged.”

Other team members are senior Megan Neil and juniors Tatum Allen, Presley Packer, Olivia Rice, Mackenzie Wilcox and Taylor Gee.

Sophomores are Shelby Elam and Brooke Thayer, and freshmen are Lucy Watkins and Hannah Kochanski.

State champs in Small Varsity Pom and Small Varsity Jazz in 2015, this season’s team barely fell short of back-to-back Jazz state titles, less than one point away, and took second.

Nine of this season’s 12 team members also contributed to the 2015 double state championships.

“I’m extremely blessed with the team this year that I have. The group of girls that I have, they’re all good people,” Adams said. “Actually all of them are honor students, they maintain really high GPAs. And they get along really well, they treat each other like sisters.

“They’re all committed to where they’re like, ‘we want to try to win the national championship in February,’” Adams added.

When hitting the floor, “The main keys are determination and repetition to get it right,” Adams said. “… All of these girls also take studio dance classes as well. They come to practice after school and then, once they leave practice, they go to their dance studio and they are there for a few more hours.”

Adams credited the team’s two choreographers: Stacy Shelton, pom coordinator for the past five years, and Christin Lewis, jazz coordinator from West Knox County who works with the team “about once a month … on skills and on routine,” she said.

Though Shelton lives in Alabama, “We bring her in to us in the beginning of September, for one weekend, and she taught them their entire routine that weekend,” Adams said. “And she’s back in January … before we go to nationals.”