BRADENTON -- Rolling out with fanfare, the Manatee High School Sugar Canes dance team headed to the 2016 National Dance Team Championship on Thursday.
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A bus carrying the team Thursday stopped by the school district administration building for family, friends and supporters to wave and shout their encouragement. The high school drumline also played loudly to wish the team well.
The Sugar Canes dance team, which started at Manatee High School in 1947, has gone to the national competition every year since 1987. This team placed sixth recently at the Florida Regional Dance Team Championships.
The 22-girl varsity squad is headed this year by Angela Babroski, an English and speech teacher at the school and a former Sugar Cane from 2000 to 2003. Sugar Canes used to have a separate varsity and junior varsity dance team but they were combined into one this year, she said.
The team is looking to improve on its performance from last year when it did not make the finals.
"That is our goal this year," Babroski said.
The preliminary competition is Saturday and qualifiers perform Sunday at the Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney.
Meghin Delaney, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081. Follow her on Twitter@MeghinDelaney.