Cheers for Faribault dance team at pep rally after state final controversy

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The high school dance team that won a state championship despite controversial circumstances over the weekend appears to have the full support of the Faribault community.

A pep rally was held Tuesday to honor the Faribault Emeralds dance team, whose Class AAA State High Kick Championship win was overshadowed by a protest amid allegations they had plagiarized their winning routine.

And they've also been invited to visit the State Capitol by a local lawmaker.

"We wanted to make sure they felt good about their championship," Superintendent Todd Sesker told the Star Tribune of the rally. "These are young kids. They shouldn't have to go through what they went through last week."

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The extraordinary scene at the Target Center Saturday night unfolded as the winner was about to be announced. Rather than taking up their positions at the request of the announcer, five high school teams instead stood off to the side, holding hands in protest of the Emeralds' routine.

The protesting teams – from Wayzata, Eastview, Chaska, Lakeville South and Eden Prairie – were disqualified for failing to move back to their original spots. The MSHSL is now investigating the incident.

The Faribault squad got a much more satisfying response upon entering the gym Tuesday, with the Pioneer Press reporting they received a standing ovation from students, teachers, staff and family members at the pep rally.

"It's the first time I've got tears since the thing happened," dance teacher Lois Krinke told the newspaper. "Because I feel we were so robbed of this kind of moment. I don't care about myself, but I know how hard these girls worked."

The Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) had cleared the Faribault squad's routine in the week leading up to the competition. It came after a YouTube video was uploaded showing a split screen airing of the Faribault squad's choreography next to a similar performance by another team.

Krinke acknowledged her team had used moves seen in a video of another routine, but maintained there were differences between the finished products.

The controversy, reminiscent of Hollywood cheerleading film "Bring it On," has drawn national attention, with the Washington Post the latest to cover the story, describing it as "very awkward, even by teen standards."

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