Wood County twirlers capture international crowns in Canton

Members of Bonnie Ross Yo-Yo Elite’s Fab Five celebrate with their team international championships at the Twirling Unlimited International Championships in Canton, Ohio. Pictured from left to right are: Lakin Haddad, Emree Vannoy, Katherine Moyers, Layleigh Fordyce, and Ella Shingleton. (Photo Provided)

MINERAL WELLS — Bonnie Ross Yo-Yo Elite Twirler coach Kim Vannoy didn’t really know what to expect when she and fellow coaches Channon Dugas and Chelsea Singleton took two teams of baton twirlers to the Twirling Unlimited International championships in Canton, Ohio.

Would the group of 10 girls, three of whom had experience higher than the regional level, be ready to compete against teams from around the world? Would the pressure get to any of them? Would the demand for near perfection wear on any of them?

“It is the biggest competition these girls have ever been to by far,” Vannoy said. “Four hundred twirlers from across the world coming together for the top prizes in one of the biggest events the organization has ever had is a lot.”

She had a point.

Perfection would be demanded. Drop a baton five or six times and things could turn sour with the two judges. But the rules were a little more open than competitions hosted by the National Baton Twirling Association and the Drum Majorettes of America. Routines could blend more gymnastics and the performance platforms were a little bigger. Yet, those twists could have added a layer of complexity and adjustment to an already daunting scenario.

Members of the Bonnie Ross Yo-Yo Elite’s A-Team take time away to snap a picture before a competition. Pictured from left to right (in the front row): Ava Lamp, Katlyn Dugas and Bella Wilcoxen; in the back row: Kelsey Cox and Arabella Kimes. (Photo Provided)

Not to mention, each routine could only be performed once in front of the judges.

And yet, those worries didn’t prove to be any roadblocks. Three days, 10 routines and four international championships later, Vannoy left stunned. The girls from parts of Ohio and West Virginia were coming home as worldwide stars.

They had bested other competitiors from baton schools and dance schools.

“We hoped we would just win one international championship,” Vannoy said. “We were very surprised with how well they did. The girls were always good to us but they blew it away.”

The self-proclaimed A-Team of girls made up from the 10-12 age range (Kelsey Cox, Katlyn Dugas, Ava Lamp, Bella Wilcoxen and Arabell Kimes) captured the juvenile small pom poms.

Meanwhile, the self-titled Fab Five of Emree Vannoy, Katherine Moyers, Ella Shingleton, Lakin Haddad and Layleigh Fordyce bagged three titles of their own: Tiny Tots small dance twirl, tiny tots novelty, and tiny tots small pom poms.

The most impressive of those honors was the dance twirl event, according to Vannoy. The girls worked a year-and-a-half on the routine that saw plenty of action. Batons can be thrown up in the air, caught behind the back, and just about anything else one could think of with spins, twirles, catches, tosses, etc. And the girls pretty much nailed the routine.

“It was just overall one of the best performances they had ever done,” Vannoy said.

The other two events weren’t cake walks, though.

Novelty contained parts of dance twirl, but added flags and another baton into the mix. So it was more fun, sure, but there were a lot of things going on over the course of three songs being played during the performance.

Pom poms sounds exactly like what it is.

“We were pretty hyped up,” Vannoy said of the victories. “I have never seen them put so much energy or so much of themselves into routines ever. Their personality and showmanship were outstanding. They definitely went to win that was for sure.”

Joe Albright can be reached at jalbright@newsandsentinel.com.


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