Vail Christian High School’s pom/dance team wins its eighth straight state title |

Vail Christian High School’s pom/dance team wins its eighth straight state title

Vail Christian High School's pom/dance team won its eighth straight title on Saturday, Dec. 8. They are, back row from left: Madison Ritsch, Izzy Richie, Sandra Tellor, Yvette Emmer, Chloe Hornbostel. Front row from left:: Jasmine Hartman-Budnik, Katie Keith, Camille Chicoine.
Marlee Smith/

Think of them as a dancing dynasty, because that’s what they are.

The Vail Christian High School Saints dance team earned their eighth straight state title on Saturday, Dec. 8, in the Denver Coliseum.

Coach Patti Carlson led the team to seven of those titles, and this year she turned over the reins to Rebecca Novak and Caroline Bauer, an alumna and former dance team member. The team didn’t miss a step.

“We are so proud of this team not only for the incredible strength in dance but also and more importantly their strength in character,” Novak said. “We have thoroughly enjoyed coaching these girls and witnessing their kindness and camaraderie toward each other.”

Co-captain senior Jasmine Hartman-Budnik is one of those rare athletes who does not know what it’s like to compete for a state title and not win it. She and co-captain Camille Chicoine are proud, and rightly so.

“This was the most hard-working, flexible team that I have had the pleasure to work with,” Hartman-Budnik said. “The girls were so flexible when we felt like parts of the dance weren’t strong enough. We made changes right up to the week before the championship. Even when the team was exhausted, they continued to work hard … because they knew by making it stronger they had the recipe to win again.”

One team member, Cate Maslan, suffered a broken leg, but still continued to attend practice and support the team. Her support was reciprocated. Maslan brought her uniform to Saturday’s championship. Two of her teammates wore parts of her uniform. One wore her sleeves and the other her T-shirt.

Dynasties are work

The VCHS dance team is many things, but as much as anything, it’s a dynasty. Like anything else, dynasties are work.

The season runs from August to December, learning a new dance for every football, basketball and volleyball game. When fall sports finish, they focus on the dance they’ll perform at the state finals.

They pick the music first. It needs to be something they want to listen to because they’re going to hear it for hours every day. Performances last just under two minutes.

The judges are focused on creativity, presentation, sharpness of movement, precision, kick sequence and overall difficulty.

“Spirit teams have to balance difficulty of routine and perfect execution for the two minutes that they are on stage. It’s remarkable to me how each year they find that balance and execute it perfectly on the biggest stage when it counts the most,” Tim Pierson, athletic director, said.

Vail Christian’s student body is a few hundred souls, and everyone does everything. The dance/pom team members are in drama, academic decathlon, student council, National Honor Society, Steadman science competition … the list is long and distinguished.

Even with their eighth straight state title in the trophy case, their season is not over. The dance team now focuses on cheering the VCHS boys’ and girls’ basketball teams.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and

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