CMU dance team takes home two national championship titles

Photo Courtesy of CMU Dance Team
Editor's note: Dance Co-Captain Alyssa Melnik and reporter Kaia Zimmerman are friends. In no way did this impact the reporting or writing of this story. 

The Central Michigan dance team won two national championships at the 2024 College Classic last weekend, securing the top spot in both Division I Pom and Jazz categories. 

This is the second-straight year when the Chippewas have taken home hardware. The team’s first national championship came in last year’s competition, in the jazz category. 

“Since we won last year… we felt like we had to go overdrive in our training to make sure we prove that, again it wasn't a one time thing,” senior captain Alyssa Melnik said. “So, just to win pom and then back-to-back for jazz was insane. We had dreamt about it all year, talked about it, but the fact that it actually happened … I don't think we’ve still processed it.”

The Chippewas placed second in the preliminary round in Pom on Friday behind Ohio University; the Bobcats outscored CMU by over two points. The team bounced back the next day, taking the  win in the finals with a score of 91.34. 

“When we came off the stage for Pom … everybody's reaction was just, ‘Joly crap, like that was so much better than the day before,’” senior captain Alaina Patalon said. “So to hear our names called first place at the award ceremony was just so shocking, but honestly, just so rewarding.” 

The team didn’t have to wait long before they were crowned with another title -- Division I Jazz champions -- with a score of 92.54. 

The Chippewas beat out 16 other teams in the category to secure back-to-back championships. 

“We wanted to prove, too, that this wasn't just like a fluke,” Patalon said. “Especially if you look at our jazz dance last year, compared to this year, they're two completely different dances, so trying to like keep that title was definitely the main goal.” 

After not being able to compete in the championships in their first two years on the team due to COVID-19, Melnik and Patalon said these past two seasons have meant even more to them. 

“It just feels like we've come so far from like not even being allowed to talk to our coach (in person) the first year to bringing home two rings this year ... so it's just so surreal,” Melnik said. “I just have so much gratitude, and I'm so thankful for all of these opportunities, and I'm just gonna miss them so much.”