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Matt Gade, Deseret News
Fremont competes in the 5A drill team championships at Utah Valley University's UCCU in Orem on Friday, Jan. 31, 2014.

OREM — When the coaches of Hillcrest's drill team first heard the song “Showstopper,” they knew they wanted to incorporate it into their season.

“That’s such a drill team thing,” said head coach Brenda Searle. “We’re always teaching the girls to be showstoppers — to be great performers — so this was an opportunity for us to take this category and do what Hillcrest is known for: being good performers.”

Searle, her assistant coaches (Mechele Bosco and Alexa Vanderhooft), and the Hillcrest team took that message and the song and gave their “character” drill routine a bit of a circus-like shake-up.

“We wanted a character routine that would be a little more 'hip-hopy' and a little fun and upbeat,” Searle said. “So we decided it would be fun to do clowns and incorporate that style of dancing with technique and with dance moves.”

At the 4A/5A state drill competition, held Friday at Utah Valley University, Hillcrest did turn heads, placing third in the character category in its return to 5A.

“We are thrilled with their performance today,” Searle said. “They are spectacular; we couldn’t be any more proud.”

Part of Hillcrest’s longstanding tradition is in the team’s attire. Not just on the floor, which included elaborate clown suits and hats, but also in the stands, as fans were decked in party hats and clown noses, and with their coaches.

“We’ve been coaching together for 24 years and we have done the matching-outfit thing for 24 years,” said Searle, who, like her assistants, wore neon-green pants in support of the team.

“We have a feeling that this is an important day and an important event, and we should get up and dress up and show up,” Searle said.

Bosco added: “We want to represent our team as well as our team represents us.”

In 4A, the Bountiful Mandonelles swept all three categories, including a bug-themed character dance, and won their sixth consecutive overall state title. Clearfield placed second in 4A character with a magic-themed routine that included multiple magic wardrobe changes inside a tunnel parachute.

Maple Mountain, Salem Hills and Sky View rounded out the top five in the character category.

In dance, Maple Mountain earned second and was followed by Bonneville, Sky View (which performed to John Lennon’s “Imagine”), and Clearfield. Maple Mountain also placed second in military, followed by Murray, Sky View and Clearfield.

Copper Hills won its second straight 5A overall title, placing first in military and second in both dance and character with an aliens routine. The overall standings were completed by Bingham, Hillcrest, Pleasant Grove and Brighton.

Hillcrest placed second in military, followed by Bingham, Brighton and Pleasant Grove. Bingham won first place in the dance category and Pleasant Grove was third, followed by Hillcrest and Brighton. Bingham won character with a black widows-themed routine while Pleasant Grove placed fourth with a "Pan-Am stewardess"-themed performance. Brighton finished fifth with its own spiders dance.

Sarah Thomas earned a degree in Mathematics from the University of Utah and is currently pursuing an MBA at Westminster College. She has been covering sports for the Deseret News since 2008.