Brighton High School Pom Team Wins National Dance Competition (2024)

Tom Tolen /

It was a singular honor for the Brighton High School Pom Squad this past weekend, as they garnered the first place trophy at the nationals of dance competition in Orlando, Florida.

The occasion was the Dance Team Union Nationals, which attracted dance teams from all over the country. To win the nationals was a logical and progressive step for the Brighton contingent, which took 4th place in the DTU National Champonships just a year ago.

Brighton also took first place in the regionals in order to qualify for the nationals. Team members pay their own way to the nationals by holding fundraising events during the year. There are 15 members on the BHS varsity pom squad, and all made the trip to Orlando.

The team coaches are Kendall Gessler, Jenna Belian and Camryn Tyler. Gessler said that after finishing 4th last year the girls “were hungry for more, coming back this year.” She said the motto this year was “'Champions Like Challenges'. The girls were up for the challenge and declared that this was going to be their year, and didn’t finish until the job was done.”

In the Large Varsity - Team Performance division, Brighton amassed 88.66 points, edging out Sapulpa High School by two points (86.4 pts.). The school is located in in Sapulpa, Oklahoma, a suburb of Tulsa.

Brighton High School also took second place in the Large Varsity - Pom category, scoring 87.42 points. Little Chute, Wisconsin, High School took first place while another Michigan team, Anchor Bay, finished third.

Additional comments by head coach Kendall Gessler:

"Finishing 4th last year in Large Varsity Pom was a huge accomplishment for the program. The athletes worked extremely hard for that placement but were so hungry for more coming back this year! We are so excited to be runner-ups and we are already prepping for the upcoming year, to keep the momentum moving!

We have 15 members on the Varsity Team, and all 15 members traveled to Orlando and competed in both routines. They include:
Addison B, Kaitlyn C, Karalyn D, Jorah H, Cadence M, Alaina P, Elle R, Gianna S, Maya S (captain), Avarie S, Sophia T, Cora T (captain), McKenna V, Serena W, Mackenzie W. The girls hold a few fundraisers throughout the year that covers their regional competition season, choreography, music and costuming for both of their routines.

We attend three regional competitions. This year we attended Badgerrette that was hosted at Brighton High School - where the girls took home 1st in Large Varsity Team, and Large Varsity Pom, as well as the highest scoring Pom routine of the competition. We also traveled to Grand Rapids at East Kentwood High School and competed at the Dance Team Union (DTU) Regionals. The girls received 1st in Large Varsity Team, and 2nd in Large Varsity Pom. We unfortunately were unable to attend our 3rd competition of the season due to the weather. The coaches used our resources and held a Nationals Send-Off Showcase for friends and family to cheer the dancers on before heading out to Orlando.

Winning is always the goal but this year we took a leap to try something new! Brighton has always competed in Jazz and Pom but this year we decided to switch to Pom and Team Performance. Two of the coaches competed in Team Performance on Davenport University’s Dance Team and collectively have a total of four National Championships. We really wanted to bring that to the girls at Brighton, but stepping in as new coaches last year we had a lot to learn about the program and the athletes.

The majority of the team is back in Brighton and back in classes as of Tuesday. Not only are these athletes incredible dancers but they are even better students. Nationals every year normally falls around exam week at Brighton, and even
with a heavier practice schedule, they still manage to remain honor students.

As of right now the athletes, families and coaches are celebrating and sharing the excitement from the weekend all over social media and you can view our National winning performance on our Instagram, @brighton.varsitypom. The program also received a nomination to the Brighton Area Women’s History Roll of Honor and will be added to the list of 'Outstanding Historical Accomplishments by Young Women.' We would love to get these girls all the recognition they deserve!

We are so proud of these student athletes and the fight and determination they showed every step of the way. They are truly incredible kids and deserve every moment of this win."

Brighton High School Pom Team Wins National Dance Competition (2024)
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