The Indianettes dance team at Du Quoin High School finds itself in unfamiliar territory -- at a time of the competitive season they are usually fighting to qualify for state competition, this year they have already qualified in three events -- pom dance, hip-hop and jazz.
And while they aren't exactly coasting through the rest of the regular season, the final two regional competitions before the Illinois Drill Team Association championships can afford the team a chance to perfect their routines without worrying about making the cut.
"These are just for fun," said Bri Green, who is in her third year of coaching and with 17 girls has her biggest squad yet.
It's also her strongest. "In the past I've never done three routines but this year I thought they could handle it," she said. "In the past I only took pom dance to IDTA. This year I decided to try hip-hop and jazz, too.
"We NEVER qualify (for state IDTA) at the first competition ... and this year they did."
The Indianettes are preparing for two state competitions -- IDTA and IHSA -- that are very different. At IDTA, which is the oldest competition, the girls will perform their jazz, pom dance and hip-hop routines, with costume changes for each. They will be judged among schools of like size -- Du Quoin is Division A.
The IHSA dance competition has more stature but the girls can only compete in one event, so by the time the girls get to the Jan. 25 IHSA sectional in Effingham they'll have to choose which of their events is strongest. Moreover, there are no divisions in IHSA, so small schools and big schools are lumped together in one big contest.
"I think they have more fun at IDTA," Green said. "They get to do more competitions, and we have different costumes for each event."
At the Jan. 11 Marion IDTA regional competition, the Indianettes kicked some butt. They finished second in hip-hop and second in pom dance, which qualified them for the state championships in both events. They qualified for jazz right off the bat on Jan. 4 at the Belleville East regional.
Also at Marion, sophomore Adriana Stewart got the Rising Star Award.
"They don't give out many of those," Green said. "It's an award chosen by the floor judge based on showmanship and execution."
Avery Waller of Du Quoin also finished fourth in the solo dance category.