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NMSU DanceSport Company earns medals at regionals, advances to nationals

Thirteen members of the New Mexico State University DanceSport Company earned 10 first-place finishes and seven second-place finishes at the USA Dance Southwest Regional Championships in Los Angeles, earlier this month.

A row of women poses in front of a row of men near a banner for USA Dance.
The New Mexico State University DanceSport Company competed at the USA Dance Southwest Regional Championships in Los Angeles in February and 13 members earned first- and second-place finishes. The team had 14 members qualify for the national competition in March in Baltimore. (Courtesy photo)

The NMSU DanceSport Company had 14 students qualify for the national championship in Baltimore, to be held March 28-30. The term DanceSport refers to competitive Ballroom, Latin and Swing dancing.

In her second year with the team, coach Hannah Cole, a dance assistant professor, she said she was very proud of her team. Members typically logged 20 hours of practice per week for the competition, she said.

"It's very exciting to have such tremendous results in a very short amount of time," Cole said. "Last year was the first time we were competing together, and we were only dancing at the bronze level. Now we are through the gold level and dancing four styles. We have tripled our abilities and doubled our competitions."

NMSU competed Feb. 1 in four styles of dance: American Smooth, American Rhythm, International Standard and International Latin.

NMSU is only the second DanceSport degree-granting program in the country. In addition, Cole said the strong results at regionals have helped NMSU receive national recognition.

First-place titles went to Matthew Cardiel and Ariel Freilich (bronze standard), Brandon Romero and Jade Augustain (bronze smooth and silver smooth), Zachary Pohl and Freilich (gold smooth), Robert Pena and Augustain (bronze rhythm), Romero and Perla Castillo (silver rhythm, gold rhythm), Pena and Castillo (silver Latin and gold Latin) and Romero and Jixin Si (bronze Latin). Second-place finishes went to Kenneth Holley and Katherine Cavaliere (bronze smooth), Aaron Prescott and Castillo (silver smooth and gold smooth), Pohl and Cavaliere (bronze rhythm), Pohl and Natalie Cardenas (silver rhythm), Prescott and Freilich (gold rhythm) and Leonard Thurman and Cardenas (bronze Latin).