Matt Gade, Deseret News
OREM — For the Duchesne Talons, it all came down to nine minutes on Saturday.
The precision of their performances at the 1A-2A-3A State Drill Team Championships at Utah Valley University Saturday led to a clean sweep of the top spots in the 1A Military, Dance and Character competitions, earning them their 11th consecutive 1A state title.
"It's kind of overwhelming, a little bit," Duchesne High freshman Jaecee Henline said prior to the competition. "We have three really great coaches, and they've put a lot of hard work into this. We don't want to let the coaches down."
The Talons tied Bountiful High's Mandonelles for most consecutive state titles with their 10th win in 2013. It's a streak they were hoping to add to, not only for their coaches, but for the teammates who began it and kept it going.
"You don't want them to be like, 'Oh, I did all that hard work for nothing,'" Duchesne senior and Talons captain Nikki Coil said. "You just want to be proud of what they've done and what you're doing."
Kellee Grant, a Duchesne High alum, has coached the team she once danced with to seven of its 10 state crowns. She knows the sacrifices her girls have made to get where they are now.
"Families plan vacations around drill team practice," Grant said. "We have a lot of support from the school and the community, and from the girls and their parents."
Drill team practice starts the school day off at 6 a.m., an hour when most of the Talons' classmates are still in bed.
"Now that the wrestlers start coming in at 5:30 a.m., they understand why we're so tired all the time and don't stay up past 8 o'clock at night," Coil said.
Grant also holds an occasional Saturday practice, as well as practices during the summer.
"Drill team is a nine-month sport, really," she said. "We start in June, and we end the first of February. It takes almost those whole nine months to clean those three (competition) dances for us, because everything is so specific and tiny little details have to be addressed every day."
Grant was confident this year's team — which includes five sets of sisters — was well-prepared for Saturday's state competition at Utah Valley University in Orem, even though she also knew that the other 1A teams were working hard to end the Talons' consecutive win streak.
"It's a challenge every year," Grant said. "It's definitely not a walk in the park. The girls have to work and really dig in.
"If they go out there and do their very best," the coach added, "then I'm happy with whatever the outcome is."
1A Military results:
1A Dance results:
1A Character results:
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: GeoffLiesik
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