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Surgoinsville's Hoedowners bring home several clogging national championships

Jeff Bobo • Jan 24, 2018 at 7:00 PM
SURGOINSVILLE — The future looks bright for the Surgoinsville-based Tennessee Hoedowners, which on Saturday in Knoxville became the first clogging team to sweep the individual national championship categories, including the two youngest individual clogging national champions ever.

The present isn’t too bad either, as the Tennessee Hoedowner junior team, ages 13-15, also came home with the title of national champion in the Junior Division in last weekend’s Clogging Champions of America National Dance-off.

Junior team members include Hawkins County students Abby Simpson, Nia Ailshie, Gavin Cox, Alex Rowlett and Alyssia Smith.

The national dance-off featured  257 team dances and hundreds of individual events with teams traveling from across the U.S. to compete.

Hoedowners team member and spokesperson Amy Glass noted that the junior team’s championship was the result of countless hours of practice.

The five champion junior teammates have been dancing together two and three times a week for about a decade.

“Their choreography, precision and attention to detail makes their routines hard to beat by others in the competition,” Glass said. “The Tennessee Hoedowners are also known for their long tradition of winning individual events at regional and national competitions for the past 30 years. However, this year they accomplished something no other team has ever managed. They swept every single individual solo category at the event.”

Overall Amateur soloist River Ketron, 9; and Overall Amateur soloist Austin Glass, 10, were the two youngest overall soloists in the history of the Hoedowners. They beat dancers twice their age.

The Overall Challenge female soloist for the second year in a row was Abby Simpson, 14, who also took home the title of overall traditional soloist this year.

Overall Challenge male went to soloist Gavin Cox, 14.

The Tennessee Hoedowner Amateur Power team was awarded third overall grand champions with their small team consisting of Emily Simpson, Reagan Skelton, Samantha Flippin and Abby Simpson.

Clogging is a folk dance in which the dancer’s shoe is used to create a rhythm by striking the heel, the toe or both against a floor.

Although clogging can be traced back to 15th century England and Wales, modern clogging has its roots in the cotton mills of 19th century England, where wooden-soled clogs were preferred to leather soles because the floors were kept wet.

Clogging is the state dance in Kentucky and North Carolina and is an art form associated primarily with Appalachia.

The Tennessee Hoedowners of Surgoinsville is directed by Sherry Cox, Kelly Joyce and Abby Simpson.

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