Craig Spotlighters gear up for nationals

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Nick Crow
Friday, April 11, 2014

JANESVILLE — The Craig Spotlighters practiced in the school's auditorium Thursday, many at a loss for words at how well they have done this year.

"In a show choir, you're doing the show," said Hunter Benedict, senior at Craig. "You don't really realize how it looks from the other side in the audience."

But as they danced, sang and performed Thursday preparing for their first-ever national competition, many had no trouble admitting how far they have come.

"It's insane," said Elicyia Torres, Craig senior. "I didn't think we would ever make it (to nationals) because we had a new director. I wasn't sure we would be good at first, but as I watched our show, I realized that we were."

The Spotlighters director, Adam Miller, is in his first year after taking over for former instructor Robert Schrank, who retired after 10 years.

"We started in August, so it's been about eight months," Miller said. "In our first year, I didn't anticipate as successful a season as we've had. I knew it would be a challenge, but it's a good challenge."

After placing in the top three in several competitions in January and February, the group proved itself during a first-place showing at the Main Event Western Dubuque Showchoir event in March, senior Alex Janssen said.

"I wasn't really surprised," Janssen said. "I knew we were among the top groups. I didn't know for certain we would win, but I knew we were pretty good."

In their most recent event, the Spotlighters placed third in a competition in Branson, Mo., qualifying them for the national finals in Chicago on April 26.

"This is the first time we've competed with the ability to go to nationals," Miller said. "I don't think there has been a Wisconsin school represented at the national competition. At least not in several years."

Miller said the team competed against 11 others from Colorado, Minnesota, Ohio, Texas, Missouri, Nebraska, Mississippi and Wisconsin in their most recent event.

"We have people involved in sports and other stuff," Miller said. "We have kids in AP (Advanced Placement) classes. We truly get the cream of the crop."

Because Miller is in his first year, some longtime "Spots" were concerned there would be a learning curve with the group.

"I definitely didn't expect to make it to nationals," said Nathan Schneider, a four-year member of the Spotlighters. "I thought it would be an experimental year, but we were able to excel quickly."

It did take time for the group to get used to Miller's teaching style, but once he found his niche, the group got better and better, Schneider said.

"He has focused more on vocals than we have in years past," Schneider said. "I think that really comes out in our shows."

The FAME Showchoir National Finals will take place at the Arie Crown Theater, 2301 S. Lake Shore Dr., Chicago.

The 2014 Craig Spotlighters are:


- Hunter Benedict

- Louis Berbitsky

- Alex Bessolo

- Zach Boutelle

- Kendall Cawkins

- Meg Conway

- Emma Dedrick

- Daniel Eberdt

- Lauren Fenrick

- Lexi Ganong

- Sarah Gilbertson

- Chase Glissendorf

- Emily Green

- Lake Hallett

- Emily Heilman

- Lexi Johns

- Ashley Johnson

- Tyler Kerbel

- Hannah Laatsch

- Teegan Lentz

- Caleb Lobraico

- Evan MacDougall

- Madeline Membrino

- Jessica Minter

- Megan Monroe

- Keeley O'Dell

- Tevin Pann

- Hailey Peterson

- Dwayne Redler

- Jennifer Riegert

- Emily Saliby

- Leah Sanford

- Grace Schmaling

- Nathan Schneider

- Tony Seibert

- Ross Sroda

- Norah Swenson

- Jake Tollefsrud

- Elicyia Torres

- Annette Triller

- Angelo Villarreal

- Sydney Weber

- Rachel Wente

- Sophie Werner

Show Band:

- Austin Campbell

- Dalton Campbell

- Zach Clowes

- David Dyble

- Alex Janssen

- Connor Jensen

- Jenna Jero

- Austyn Meier

- Andy Redler

- Sam Sheridan

- Robert Suter

- Gabe Waller

Stage Crew:

- Kassie Beaumont

- Kendall Bladorn

- Haley Budrow

- Zach Dabrowski

- Grace Frey

- Hannah Grey

- Maggie Harbrecht

- Thyme Heath-Lovell

- Arica Hessian

- Kimberly Klusmeyer

- Jessie Larson

- Blaine Mullikin

- Bruna Rubini

- Emily Schonhoff

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