Desert Hills drill team wins state 4A title

Desert Hills High School "Tempest Line" drill team members celebrate winning the state 4A championship, Orem, Utah, Feb. 3, 2018 | Photo courtesy of Molly Shaheen, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — The Desert Hills High School drill team, known as “The Tempest Line,” won its first-ever state championship Saturday, taking first place in two of the three competition categories and third in the other.

In taking the 4A title, Desert Hills edged its Region 9 rival, the Dixie High “Jetettes,” which placed second overall at state.

Desert Hills High School “Tempest Line” drill team members celebrate winning the state 4A championship, Orem, Utah, Feb. 3, 2018 | Photo courtesy of Molly Shaheen, St. George News

A total of 16 schools in the Utah High School Activities Association’s 4A classification competed in the two-day event held at Utah Valley University in Orem. The UHSAA 2A and 3A tournaments were also held concurrently with the 4A event, with the various schools taking the floor in turns to perform their precisely choreographed routines, each of which had been rehearsed many times over the past several months.

Four schools from Region 9 were entered in the competition, each seeded according to how they finished at the region championships in St. George Jan. 24. Region 9 champion Desert Hills and runner-up Dixie High both made it past the first day of the state competition Friday, as did Region 9’s No. 3 seed, the Canyon View “Talons”, which made it to Saturday’s finals as the wild card team. Region 9’s fourth seed, Cedar, was among the seven out of 16 schools in the 4A bracket that were eliminated Friday and did not advance to Saturday’s finals. (Paragraph corrected; see note below.)

Read more: Top Region 9 drill teams ready for state 4A competition in Orem

“It’s quite the process getting to the finals,” said Desert Hills head coach Marcee Christensen. “All nine schools that competed today are excellent teams.”

Saturday, all the remaining teams performed their three routines one last time for the finals judges.

Desert Hills, one of the last schools to perform its military routine about 9:30 a.m. Saturday, had to take the floor again a half hour later, when it was the first team to perform in the dance category shortly after 10 a.m.

Desert Hills High’s character routine, Region 9 Drill Team Competition, St. George, Utah, Jan. 24, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

Then, just before 1 p.m., the Tempest Line wrapped up their their season with yet another strong performance of their popular character routine, which featured the team’s 34 members dressed as court jesters decked out elaborate makeup and costumes as they danced to a medley of up-tempo music from Warp 1.9, Skrillex and Timmy Trumpet.

Later that afternoon, after the judges’ ballots were tabulated, the winners were announced, and the Desert Hills team members and coaches were joined by family members and fans crowding onto the floor in celebration.

“It’s wonderful to earn the top spot today. We started working for this basically the day after state last year,” Christensen said, adding that the Tempest Line has just finished its seventh year.

Last year, the Tempest Line won the Region 9 title but ended up taking third in state, while region runner-up Dixie went on to win its second straight 3A state title.

“Today is so special to us because it’s been a building process from the beginning of the Tempest Line to get to this point,” she added, thanking the Desert Hills High School administration, dance team members’ parents and student body for their ongoing support over the past several years. She also expressed her thanks to assistant coaches Ashlend Jones and Aubree Esplin for their dedication and expertise.

Saturday, Desert Hills won the overall title by placing first in military, first in character and third in dance. State runner-up Dixie took first in dance, third in character and eighth in military. Canyon View’s Talons placed sixth in military and seventh in character.

“Region 9 was well-represented today,” Christensen said. “Any time we compete with Dixie, it’s a battle. They are very good.”

Christensen extended her thanks and praise to the other 4A schools throughout the state.

“Every team has put in countless hours, and each put amazing routines and dancers on the floor,” she said.

Christensen said the team is expected to arrive back in St. George around 9:30 p.m. Saturday, after which the girls are scheduled to take a celebratory fire truck ride. The fire truck is scheduled to lead a procession of honking cars full of fans, starting at the Bloomington Walmart parking lot and going east along Brigham Road until reaching Desert Hills High around 10 p.m.

CORRECTION 9:30 p.m.: This article has been corrected to indicate that Canyon View, Region 9’s No. 3 seed, also advanced to Saturday’s finals.


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  • Sylvia February 3, 2018 at 8:01 pm

    Actually I’m a Canyon View parent and we DID advance to today’s finals!

    • Jeff Richards Jeff Richards February 3, 2018 at 9:33 pm

      Thanks. Article has been updated.

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