The University of St. Thomas Dance Team placed first in the Open Division Hip Hop category at the Universal Dance Association College Nationals in Orlando, Florida, Jan. 13-15, earning its 11th national championship since 2006 and its fourth consecutive win in hip-hop. The team also placed second in the Open Division Jazz category.
The UDA competition is the largest national collegiate championship in the United States and is attended annually by teams from around the nation. The Open Division includes NCAA Divisions II and III, and smaller schools. Teams are allowed to compete in up to two categories. Prior to this year, the Tommies placed first in jazz in 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2014, and in hip-hop in 2011, 2014, 2015 and 2016.
Head coach Alysia Ulfers credits strong leadership from the team's captains, as well as driven veterans and eager rookies, in the successful culmination of the season. "We lost a solid group of seniors last year," she said. "To say we ended with a hip-hop national title with nine rookies – all of whom had never done this kind of hip-hop prior to joining our team – is pretty incredible and a testament to how hard they worked."
For the Tommies, it is not all about the trophy, but also the friendships. "They supported one another, believed in each other and never once did one try and out-do someone else," Ulfers said. "Our journey was not easy, but it was always a team effort and a perfectly in-sync dynamic. Winning was just the final 1 percent to complete our adventure."
Members of the 2016-17 team are seniors Alex Brown, Sydni Grover, Megan Kaveney, Mikayla Larson and Morgan McGowan; juniors Chloe Gilbreth, Hailey Nerison and Annie Vitale; sophomores Mackenzie Davidge, Alli Getz, Haley Foucault and Krista Kronlokken; and freshmen and Alayna Carlson, Zoe Carlson, Hennelie Hawes, Hayley Kraft, Maren Mosley, Lia Saari, Kristi Stivers and Rachel Van Berkom. The Tommies are coached by Ulfers and Julia Randall '14.
Watch the Tommies' winning hip-hop routine:
Results from the UDA College Nationals Open Division categories:
1. University of St. Thomas
2. University of Puerto Rico, Bayamon
3. Lindenwood University
4. University of Puerto Rico, Carolina
5. West Chester University
6. St. Josephs College
7. Avila University
8. University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras
9. University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire
10. Georgia College
11. Westfield State University
1. Lindenwood University
2. University of St. Thomas
3. University of Minnesota-Duluth
4. Orange Coast College
5. University of Central Oklahoma
6. Minnesota State University-Mankato
7. St. Cloud State University
8. Grand Canyon University
9. Avila University
10. University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire
11. Bridgewater State University
12. Northwest Missouri State University
13. St. Josephs College
14. College of St. Benedict
15. College of New Jersey
16. University of Puerto, Rico Carolina
17. University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras
For more information on the Tommie dancers, visit the team's website.