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Alma seniors relish dance title 11/18/22

Alma seniors relish dance title

By Kevin Taylor

Alma Schools 


Katie Major held her breath. Literally and figuratively.


“We were trying to hold our emotions together, and it was hard,” Major said. “When they announced the runner-up, we knew.”


After some close finishes, including a hard third-place, finish at the State Dance Competition in 2021, Alma reigned supreme last week in Hot Springs. The program’s six seniors, Major, Taylor Greer, Emalie Griffin, Jocelyn Harless, Emma Moore-Odell, and Abigail Smith helped bring the school its fifth overall state title — but first since 2017. 


“I really can’t put it into words,” Greer said. “It’s such a great feeling. My senior year, it’s the only time I’m going to feel that. It’s just an extraordinary feeling.”


Alma’s state title got a huge boost from an influx of talented sophomores, Major said. 


In 2021, Alma fielded its first freshman team. Heading into this year’s state dance competition, just two of the team’s 12 sophomores — Taryn Greer and Slayde Sargent — had been on the big stage. 


“They (sophomores) really stepped into that role as a varsity member,” Major said. “Coach (Ashlyn) Hill did a great job of preparing them during their freshman year. Since they’ve all had experience on the floor, I guess it was just more comfortable for them. I feel like that really helped them with their confidence, being on varsity.”


“Since we started a freshman team last year, they already had a pretty good feeling of how competition is,” Taylor Greer said. “Stepping up to varsity is such a huge step. Practices get harder, the expectations get higher for you. 


“I feel like they really stepped up.”


In addition to Sargent and Taryn Greer, Alma’s sophomore dancers include Lilah Battles, Vivian Beneux, Ashton Chanhnouvong, Madison Couch, Cash Farris, Kenadie Farris, Haylei Moses, Daimya Parker, Leah Tally, Kensington Wadkins.


Major said she’s especially happy for coach Sara Murray. The Texas native joined the Alma dance staff in 2014 but didn’t win her first crown as the program’s head coach until last week. 


“I know it means everything to her,” Major said. “She’s put so much into the program. She’s from Texas, so Arkansas is a very foreign place to her. (But) she has that connection with us.


“I know it means a lot to her.”


It means a lot to the dancers, too.


“This is the first state championship title for all of the kids on the team,” Murray said. “Seniors Taylor Greer and Katie Major are the only team members who were on the team in 2020 when we won state runner-up, and also placed fifth in small varsity Hip Hop at UDA Virtual Nationals. All the kids have had the privilege of winning multiple first-place titles and judges choice awards at Invitationals (pre-state competitions) throughout the years.”