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Two Grizzliettes advance to State

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Sunnyside High School Grizzliettes Alyssa Longoria (L) and Brenda Barrios are hoping to medal at this Saturday's Dance and Drill State Championships in Yakima.

Although the Sunnyside High School Grizzliettes missed out on a State invitation by just a few points, two of its members will be competing this Saturday in the State drill down competition in Yakima.

Brenda Barrios and Alyssa Longoria, both seniors at Sunnyside High School, finished in the top 10 at the District competiton earlier this month.

Drill down is an individual competition where the girls perform military drill movements to the commands of a caller. At all five dance competitions this season the Grizzliettes also competed in drill downs.

Barrios and Longoria were part of a group of 175 competitors at the District tournament and had to finish in the top 25 to advance to State.

With that many participants and then trying to remember all of the commands, things can get a little confusing. Sometimes, the girls even forget their left from their right.

To help with the confusion the Grizzliettes devised ways to help them remember. Barrios likes to bite the inside of her right cheek to help her remember. Longoria stiffens her right hand.

The girls must respond to each command in an easy fluid motion. If one hesitates, or makes a wrong move, they are out of the competition and must sit down.

Barrios was knocked out of the District competition when she lost her balance.

"I messed up because the commands were coming too fast," she explained.

To get ready for Saturday's State competition, Barrios has been practicing listening to different callers. She gets on You Tube and listens to the commands at other competitions to get better.

"I close my eyes because it's harder to keep my balance that way," she said.

Longoria got knocked out of the District competition because she said she fidgeted during a command. When all of the other girls started to drop out and she realized she was just one of a few left, Longoria said she lost her concentration.

"I forgot what direction I was supposed to go and when I corrected myself I fidgeted," she explained. "I'm trying to overcome that."

Both have been practicing for State. They say it's the concentration and the memorizing of the commands that is the toughest part. The participants must move at the speed of the commands. If the caller shouts at the commands at a fast pace, the girls must keep up. The same applies if the caller slows things down.

Longoria has made the top 10 several times but has never earned a medal, which requires a top three finish. She is hoping to reverse that this Saturday.

Barrios would like to add some hardware to her trophy case as well. She earned a first place trophy at a competition in Pasco this season and has medals from past seasons as well.

Barrios and Longoria just missed out moving on to State with the other Grizzliettes in the hip hop competition. After battling injuries for most of the season, Sunnyside had a chance at Districts.

"The team was driven for success but we fell short," Grizzliettes Coach Melodie Griffin said.

The Grizzliettes needed to earn 210 points to move on to the State competition but scored a 198 instead. The bummer came when the dance team had points deducted because of an apparel safety violation.

Griffin isn't happy about the point deduction but places the blame on herself, adding better preparation would have allowed them to advance.

The Grizzliettes were young this year and struggled through most of the dance competition. Different skill levels and injuries were the toughest obstacles they faced.

Still, they pulled it together at their fourth competition of the year to qualify for the District competition, placing third out of four teams but scoring the needed 195 points to move on.

Griffin will put together next year's Grizzliettes when tryouts are held next month in April.

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