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Western Dubuque's 2020 Dance Team: from left, Lilli Wessels, Gerti Wall, Brady Theisen, Kirstyn Miller, Sammy Recker, Sydnie Offermann, Addie Feldmann, Jessica Smock, Bree Erion and Abbey Kramer.

A different look is in store for competitors at the Iowa State Dance/Drill Team Association’s (ISDTA) state competition this year. After everything being on-site in the past, no judges will be at the competition this month. All routines will be recorded and sent to the judges so they can score them. The winners will be announced Saturday, Dec. 5, at 1 p.m. on a live stream.

All of the teams are traveling to Des Moines to compete. The Bobcats will be running their routines Thursday, Nov. 19 with Class VI Hip Hop at 2:42 p.m., Class XI Pom 5:09 p.m. and solos 6:37 p.m.

“This season has been different for sure,” dance coach Melissa Ehrisman said, “and many times, we had to be creative. We were lucky that our administration was very helpful in getting us back to practice as soon as we could with safety precautions being taken.

“The most important thing we talked about as a team was that there were going to be so many changes that we knew we could give excuses or complain about the situation, but that is where we decided our yearly team motto would be ‘stronger than your excuses.’”

She added that the competition may have a slightly different feeling this year, but spectators are still allowed. This will deliver a sense of normalcy.

Western Dubuque’s competitors are very similar to previous years. A few tough schools returning in the pom category are Liberty and North Scott. For hip hop, Mason City will be a strong team.

“I’m not sure how we will cope with the waiting,” Ehrisman said. “I can barely stand the normal six to eight hours we usually have to wait. I guess that we will mentally prepare for being content with our performance. That will be the first “win” we will worry about.”

Western Dubuque’s Poms routine features songs addressing the current safety regulations due to COVID-19 including “Don’t Stand so Close to Me,” “Poison” and “Can’t Touch This.” Hip Hop will be dancing to “Love the Way You Lie.”

“The team is exceptionally talented and hard-working but I’d like to give them a big shout out for their teamwork and to our seniors for their leadership,” Ehrisman said.