Blaze dance team shows strength at nationals

The Utah Tech Blaze team performing their halftime show during the Utah Tech vs. Stephen F. Austin football game Oct. 7. Their teamwork and hours spent practicing led to Blaze placing second in Division 1 Hip-Hop at the USA Collegiate Championships Feb. 17 and 18 in Anaheim, California. Cora Mark | Sun News Daily

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If this season’s Blaze Dance team could be summarized in one word, it would be resilient.

The Utah Tech University Blaze Dance team performed at the USA Collegiate Championships, which took place Feb. 17 and 18 in Anaheim, California. They performed in two different categories including Jazz and Hip-Hop.

The event is an annual competition, and this year, they placed second in Division 1 Hip-Hop.

The team worked tirelessly four to five times a week, performing at sports events and competitions year-round.

Aly Johnston, a senior marketing major from Pocatello, Idaho, said: “The prep for nationals is something not a lot of people understand. There’s a lot of mental work that our team put in this year besides just the physical practice.”

Like many other sports, dance involves mental and physical stamina. The team trains daily to memorize each dance until it comes naturally to them.

”Some weeks practice would be our normal schedule and other weeks, we would be there twelve hours extra,” Johnston said.

This competition was special for this team. It was a poignant and exciting experience for these girls.

”I had so many emotions up there on that stage,” Johnston said. “I was dancing with my 19 best friends.”

The experience helped solidify a bond with these dancers, and Johnston was proud of her team.

”The trust, the emotion and the true friendship is just all the way there with our team this year,” Johnston said. “I knew that every single one of us girls wanted to go out there and perform our best not only for ourselves but for each other.”

Regardless of the outcome, these girls felt they poured their hearts out on the stage this year.

Johnston said: “Our team excelled at resilience. When something was hard this year, instead of being negative, we really looked to the positive.”

Oaklyn Ulrich, a junior communications major from St. George, said nationals was incredibly hard to prepare for but rewarding.

“Second place in the nation is amazing,” Ulrich said. “So even though it can be a little sad to have all that hard work and not get first place, it’s okay because I wouldn’t have done anything different. I’m so proud.”

Brynlee Prince, a senior integrated studies major from South Jordan, said: “During awards, I was proud. I told the team that no matter what the outcome was or what happened on the floor, I was proud of them.”

The team excelled the most at being resilient, positive and encouraging to each other throughout the competition.

The comment section of their Instagram page is full of heartfelt comments from both team members and supporters alike.

Now, the team is focused on performing at games and their showcase March 9.

Ulrich said, “I feel a large sense of gratitude and love for the sport of dance I’ve been doing for 19 years, for my teammates who all work so hard, for my coaches, for my family and friends for supporting me.”