Dancing is what Haley Griebat loves to do.
And she’ll get a chance to do so on the state’s biggest stage this weekend.
The two-sport athlete at St. Joseph-Ogden High School, who also contributes on the track and field team and the cross-country team for the Spartans, has taken a different, yet equally fulfilling approach during her time at SJO.
Now a senior, Griebat is one of 22 finalists who will perform at the Illinois Drill Team Association state finals on Feb. 9 at the Bank of Springfield Center. She’ll also dance this weekend at the IHSA state dance meet in Bloomington after helping the Spartans qualify for state last Saturday at a sectional competition in Mascoutah.
“I have been dancing since I was 5 years old, and when I started high school, I wanted to play sports,” Griebat said. “But, for my senior year, I wanted to return to dance because it’s what I love to do. It is my passion and where my heart is.”
Griebat grew up in Kansas before moving to St. Joseph for her sophomore year, quickly joining the track and field team and cross-country team. She qualified for the state meet last May in the high jump.
Griebat also attended the prestigious Nike Performance Camp in Colorado two summers ago with some other elite athletes from the Spartan running ranks. However, Griebat returned to her first love, which was dance, for her senior season.
The school that Griebat attended her freshman year in Kansas didn’t offer dance, so she took it upon herself to dance however she could.
“I danced strictly through the studio my freshman year of high school (in Kansas),” she said, “and then when I moved to St. Joseph, I realized that they had a dance team.”
The selection for the solo dance that qualified Griebat for state was an original routine that was crafted on her own.
“We got to pick what we wanted to do, so I came up with a style of dance, picked a song and basically choreographed it myself,” Griebat said. “Then, during the performance itself, you have two chances to earn a certain score, and I was fortunate to get the needed score the first time around.”
As for what the future holds, Griebat is not sure if she’ll continue dance past high school. But even if she doesn’t, the effect that sports have had on her at SJO is apparent.
“I first need to pick a school, then we’ll see what happens after that,” she said. “I don’t have any immediate plans right now to dance further, but that could always change.”
In terms of people that Griebat credits as helping her along the way, there are understandably many that have either been in her corner or have aided her in her pursuit of this prestigious honor.
“For the dance team, the captains have really kept things together this year and really welcomed me to the group,” Griebat said. “Individually, I must also thank Sydney Gallo, who was on the track team with me. She really pushed me to follow my dream of dancing at SJO, so without her, I may never have realized the dream of competing, much less the success I’ve had doing it.”
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