For three months, members of Hillcrest High School ’s Panaders spent countless hours training before, during and after school for a national drill team competition in San Antonio .

On their way home from the big event last month, they probably had mixed feelings about how it all worked out. They hadn’t placed in the team events, but they knew the competition had been fierce, and they knew they’d done well. 

            National ranking or not, director Lori Hawkins was proud of what the girls had accomplished.

“We really have had a growing season, because there were so many new girls, and many things were so new to them,” she says. “After getting back from San Antonio , I felt like we had finally bonded on the level I had hoped for all year.”

When the students returned to school that week, Hawkins had a wonderful surprise for them. Somehow, the scores had been miscalculated, and the team had placed after all. Out of 265 teams, they placed sixth in the pom division, the most difficult category they competed in.

“Pom is the always the most challenging competition,” Hawkins says. “They really feel the pressure with this one. It’s more dance than drill team, and very high energy. They’re moving on every single count.”

Why does Hawkins think the team did so well?

“It’s phenomenal choreography, first of all, and the girls were so dedicated. They were really committed, and extra sharp,” she says.

Representatives of the competition came to the school to present the team with the trophy they should have received a few days earlier.

“It was great, because we finally got to see all our work for three months pay off,” says Kathleen Meek, this year’s Panader captain. “It was really exciting that we got recognition for our most challenging routine.”

Also exciting was that the officers, Meek, Katherine Hall and Marguerite Dumont, earned second and third place trophies in the officer competition.

“We were really excited about that,” Meek says. “That’s the best we’ve ever done.”

            Members of this year’s Pander drill team are: Kathleen Meek, Katherine Hall, Marguerite Dumont, Andrea Seldowitz, Corey Autrey, Helen Ajosic, Heather Brown, Ashley Patrick, Carol Brizzolara, Christine Lankford, Lemie Ballard, Rosa Becerra, Claudia Gonzales, Sylver Gray, Yasmin Wingo, Carolyn Brydon, Lauren Klein, Jackie Becerra, Loriana Aba and Jerniqua Harris.

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