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Danceteam_340They entered the national spotlight and a tough competition. They performed their hearts out. They are now champs.

The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Titan Dance Team earned top honors at Dance Xtreme (DX) USA 2013 AmeriCup competition in the Minneapolis Convention Center in Minneapolis from Feb. 22 through Feb. 24.

The team won 1st place in the competition’s collegiate-level “Pom” routine category and 2nd in the “Lyrical” dance category. The tournament pitted the UW Oshkosh dancers against collegiate teams ranging from Wisconsin to the upper Midwest to Mexico.

“The feeling of being first in the nation is completely indescribable, and it makes all those late night practices, extra hours and countless times we’ve done it ‘full out’ so worth it,” said Tarah Radke, UW Oshkosh Dance Team co-captain.

The UW Oshkosh sport club represents a cross section of majors from the UW Oshkosh campus community.

“Along with carrying full academic loads in challenging majors, many (team members) also work and still manage to dedicate themselves to their sport,” said Karen Aspenson, team adviser and member of the UW Oshkosh Department of Social Work.

“I’ve witnessed members take professional attitudes toward service to the club and to the University as a whole,” Aspenson said.  “Of course, any team sport also helps develop collaboration, self-esteem and leadership — all skills that young women need.”

Among the UW Oshkosh Titan Dance team’s 13 members, seven are freshman, five are sophomores and one is a junior. Aspenson said the members represent majors throughout the University’s colleges and programs — including social work, education, nursing, computer programming, business and physical education.

“Typically, the only time they can get into the studio at the Wellness Center is from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m.,” she said. “As members of a sport club, they do not have a coach or trainer, so they do everything themselves, including scheduling practices, preparing and presenting their budgets, holding fund raisers, designing costumes, responsibly spending their funds and choreographing their routines. Their spirit extends far beyond the ability to shake pom pons.”

Radke, a junior and physical education major at UW Oshkosh, said the team’s limited, weekly practice schedule adds a degree of satisfaction to the award. The members’ hard work is compacted in to a pretty tight annual timetable, she said.

“We only practice three times a week, six months out of the year,” Radke said. “This may seem like a lot to us, but we are being compared to teams that have practice every day and some that even start practices in the summer.

Radke added that having a dedicated, “close-knit team” helped push it to new heights this year.

“Each of us went (to Minneapolis) believing we could take first place, and we succeeded,” she said.