OGDEN -- To say Ogden High School's drill team, the Tigerettes, rose from worst to first in a mere two years is a vast understatement.
Two years ago, there was no drill team at Ogden High. Last year, there was a small team that finished dead last in 4-A region and didn't qualify for state. But last week, the 16-member drill team clinched first place in 3-A Region 11 and is eyeing a chance at state on Saturday.
Coach Tawna Halbert likens her team to refining coal -- with hard work and perseverance, a diamond can be formed.
"I have 16 diamonds," she said of her team.
Halbert took over as coach in May 2010, after the drill team had fizzled out during the 2009-2010 school year.
"There was really no consistency," Halbert said of the issues that resulted in the demise of the Tigerettes that year. There was no solid leadership, and girls struggled with grades and citizenship.
That year, Brynn Mortenson was in ninth grade at Mount Ogden Junior High School. A neighbor knew she was a dancer.
"She told me she wanted the Tigerettes to be back at Ogden High," Mortenson said. She went to work with her friends and they decided they were going to make it happen.
Now a junior, Mortenson is proud of the work they've done and knows the team will always remember the hard work it took to get to where they are now.
Drill team President Allison Moesinger, now a senior, remembers the 2009-10 year well. Coaches changed and the girls weren't giving it their all.
She decided not to try out, and felt very sad about it. When she heard at the end of the 2010 school year that the Tigerettes were coming back with a new coach, she was elated, but she had no idea of the hard work that was ahead.
Mortenson said the girls sat down during the summer and set a team goal to win region.
"As we were doing lunges around the track, we'd say 'region' with each lunge," Mortenson said.
During the summer, the girls practiced four hours a day, five days a week. During the school year, they practice 12 hours a week wherever they can find spare space to practice. On Monday afternoon, they started in the school's dance room, tried to use the gym and ended up in the black box theater.
"We have to be a little nomadic, but we make it work," Halbert said. She said she thinks the challenges of two years ago, and losing so much last year fueled the fire in the girls.
"They knew they had something to prove, and they were excited to get a second chance. They know how it feels to lose and they wanted to know how it felt to win," Halbert said.
While it was a goal to win, the girls were surprised when their names were called as winners.
"I am proud we brought it back and brought it back the I way I wanted it," Moesinger said of her team. "We are anti-drama, and we have strong unity."
One of the biggest rewards for the team is performing and making the school proud.
"To hear them say, 'We love our Tigerettes' and know they mean it, means so much to me," Mortenson said of the student body and the respect the team has earned. "That means more than a trophy."