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Underdog Larriettes surprise all by taking state

The KHS Larriette dance team proudly hoisting their first place trophy after the final results declare them state champions! Photo by Jeremy Houston.

Without taking first in a single competition all year, the Larriettes brought home the 2A State Drill team championship trophy in dramatic fashion, beating the eight-time champion South Sevier Rams. They were welcomed home with a police escort while community members, high school students and parents braved the cold and super early morning at 3 a.m., on Saturday, February 5, to show support for their dance team.

A few of the Larriettes performing their military routine, which took second at the state competition. Photo by Jeremy Houston.

The battle for first place on Friday night was extremely close, with South Sevier winning both the military and the show categories but finishing third in dance. That third-place finish for the Rams opened the door for the young, underdog Larriette squad to sneak in and swipe the championship, as Kanab won the dance category and finished second in the other two, narrowly edging the Rams in overall points on the judges’ scorecards.

South Sevier had won its first four championships in a row as a 2A school from 2014-17, then the Rams moved up to the 3A classification and won four more titles from 2018-21, before moving back down to 2A this year. This championship was Kanab’s third state title over the past four years, with the Larriettes wining in 2019 and 2020, before finishing second to Enterprise in 2021.

In a year where expectations might not have been as high as the previous years because of the inexperienced squad and the smaller number of girls, Assistant Coach Mikkel Glazier coined the phrase for this team as “the little team that could” saying, “They reminded me of the little engine that could. Being small in numbers and experience, they surprised us all with what they were able to do.”

Head Coach Shellie Stewart said, “The KHS Larriette drill team this year had so much fight in them. It’s the smallest team I have ever had (14 girls) - with seven returners and seven new members. We were calling it a building year, but they wouldn’t accept that role. They believed all year they could win state. We did well during the season, but hadn’t won a single competition going into region.”

Coach Stewart said after taking second place at region, they implemented extra practices and pushed extra hard to give the girls that extra boost of confidence for the state competition. Coach Glazier added, “We fought all the way to the last-minute rehearsing and watching film until 10 p.m. the night before. The coaches and girls are all fighters and we didn’t give up easily.”

Stewart revealed, “The coaches studied score sheets and judges’ comments, strategizing any possible way to improve our routines and give us the edge. We left no stone unturned. The team received these changes and upgrades with eagerness, hungry for the win. They worked their tails off. They never lost hope, and we peaked at the right time.

“Our theme this year was ‘One Team - One Heart.’ We had buy-in from the team, coaches and parents who were a HUGE support! This is truly an underdog story of perseverance and sheer fight! I love this courageous team and I’m blessed to be a part of their success story. The life lessons learned from drill team and the relationships built will last a lifetime.”

Coach Glazier continued, “There was a whole lot of love on the team this year. When I left the floor after the team took state I thought, this year there was a lot of love from the girls, from the parents and from the coaches. When all three are all in, great things happen.

“One line from the song of our Dance routine says, ‘your skin and bones, turning into something beautiful’ from Coldplay’s Yellow really spoke to me because over the year we watched these girls, many inexperienced, turn into something beautiful. They really grew into beautiful dancers and it was a joy to witness.

“The girls took extra classes outside of ours, they asked how they could improve; they took corrections. They were eager to work hard and be coached. It was a pleasure to work with them! ‘Look at the stars look how they shine for you’ was another line from Yellow that was fitting because the stars did shine for them and they were shining stars themselves, especially in that dance.”

The Larriettes performing their routine “Yellow” which won them first place in the Dance category. Photo by Jeremy Houston.

When asked what their strongest routine was, Coach Glazier said, “The Dance routine Yellow was definitely our strongest routine. We scored the most points in that routine which gave us the win ultimately. The song was chosen by our assistant coach, Emily Koelliker, one she’s wanted to use for years. The lyrics are touching and sweet, the choreography on point and the yellow costumes just pulled it all together for a moving and memorable piece.

“All three coaches left the floor in tears after watching them perform at state. It was the best we’ve ever seen them do it and we were so proud of them.”

“There was such a positive, loving and fun vibe throughout the whole experience traveling to Orem and competing for the state championship,” added Assistant Coach Emily Koelliker. “We continually stated we were there with a job to do and while maintaining that focus it seemed everyone involved set aside any differences with each other to concentrate all efforts on competing our best while also sincerely enjoying our time together. Between athletes, coaches and parents there was a great feeling of mutual respect and love! I think that positivity really boosted our team and allowed the girls to perform at their highest level. We came up with the chant ‘We can! We have! We will!’ during the state finals competition day and we got our job done! What an amazing, unforgettable experience.”

The Larriettes arrived back in town at 3 a.m. Saturday morning with a police escort to a jubilant and loving crowd of family and friends welcoming them home. Assistant Coach Emily Koelliker jumped off the fire truck and ran into the arms of her proud husband, Jake, giving onlookers a scene straight from a love story. Photo by Neal Brown.

“We can! We have! We will!” A motto the team adopted to characterize their season, and a motto that the girls will probably adopt throughout their life.

Members of the Larriette team are Hallie Beckstead, Ciara Brown, Kaidee Clarkson, Kemmer Eggenberger, Maya Hafen, Paige Hines, Allie Houston, Sara Jacobs, Kylee Jones, Mia Kabella, Harlee Riggins, Leila Seely, Shelby Springall and Sophia Stewart and are coached by Shellie Stewart, Mikkell Glazier and Emily Koelliker.

The overall team standings were as follows:

1. Kanab

2. South Sevier

3. Gunnison

4. Enterprise

5. Parowan


1. South Sevier

2. Kanab

3. Gunnison

4. North Summit

5. Parowan


1. Kanab

2. Enterprise

3. South Sevier

4. Parowan

5. Gunnison


1. South Sevier

2. Kanab

3. Enterprise

4. San Juan

5. Gunnison




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