Created:Saturday, January 25, 2014 11:27 p.m.CDT

Happy dance: Huntley state-bound

Ruthie Hauge - For Shaw Media Huntley High School Poms Squad dancers, Eliza Godfrey (so.) and Rachel Halter (sr.) react after learning their team took first place during the IHSA Competitive Dance Regional at Huntley High School on Saturday, January 25, 2014. (Ruthie Hauge Photography)

HUNTLEY – At the beginning of the dance season, Huntley’s chances of competing for a state championship by season’s end seemed implausible. After all, they were nowhere to be found lastyear in the winner’s circle.

All that has changed. The Fox Valley Conference champions now are sectional champions. And to be frank, these Red Raiders won the sectional Saturday night quite comfortably.

“It hasn’t sunk in,’’ Huntley senior Amanda Czarnota said. “This was ourseniors’ last competition and we didn’t want to end. This is Huntley historyright here.”

Huntley history will continue this weekend in Bloomington in the IHSA state dance competition. And Huntley will have some company for this trip. Jacobsfinished third and also qualified for the trip. The top-six finishersqualified for a state visit. The state adventure could last two days.

Officially, Huntley won the event with a score of 91.0. Warren was second (88.03), Jacobsfinished with an 87.93, fourth place went to South Elgin (87.6), Mundelein was fifth (87.3) and the sixth team was Barrington (86.93).

Czarnota’s teammate, Melanie Naranjo, said her team’s practices helpedprepare them for the big day.

“Last year, we were underdogs,’’ Naranjo said. “We all sat and talked aboutit and we all really wanted it. There are some really good teams here. Iwonder if this is really happening.”

Kayleigh Cosden of Jacobs noted her team never gave up hope.

“I’m so happy,’’ Cosden said. “We have such good character and we never stop working. When we were done, the audience was amazing.”

Jacobs coach, Allison Preston, applauded her team’s spirit.

“We really came out with more energy,’’ Preston said.

Preston is in her ninth season coaching dance and is a big fan of thisgroup.

“This is the classiest team,’’ she said. “They love each other and supporteach other. I really look up to them.”

Jacobs senior, Lauren Rebodos, noted the hard work her team has put intothis event.

“I was really hopeful tonight,’’ Rebodos said. “We have really worked hardand had a lot of emotion. We left everything on the floor.”

And now her team is heading to Bloomington.

“It’s been such an amazing season,’’ Rebodos said. “This is the best teamI’ve been on.”

As the winner of the Huntley Sectional, the Red Raiders should be in a goodposition to do something special at state.

“There were so many great teams here,’’ said Huntley coach Chrissy Amling.“But we wanted it really bad. Once we got on the floor, the attitude andshowmanship was there.”

Waiting for the announcement of the winner of this sectional wasn’t easy forthe home team.

“I was scared,’’ Amling said. “But we were in it to win it. This is ahard-working team. It’s a strong family.”