The girls presented a nearly flawless performance on Nov. 11 at the state preliminaries and earned their highest score of the year. The performance earned them the No. 1 seed from the sectional competition as they advanced to the state finals on Nov. 12.
At the Columbus Civic Center, they performed again against the No. 1 seeds from all of the regional competitions in the final round of the state competition. The Lady Eagles delivered another training performance and improved their score from the day before by seven points, earning them state runner-up to Trion High School.
“We were just very honored to have earned that spot,” said first-year head coach Kendra Sue Finch. “The girls were thrilled and really thankful for the way that things progressed throughout the season. There were lots of ups and downs during the season, and it was just a great way to end the season. I’m so proud of the girls and their hard work.”
Hard work is exactly what Finch credits for getting the 17 girls to the championship. They had only four hours to practice to rework their entire routine after one cheerleader was injured two days before the region competition. However, the work they put in earlier paid off, Finch said.
The squad was comprised of just three seniors and many freshmen, but the team worked out during the summer with their strength and conditioning coach and practiced five days a week in between cheering at football games during the school year.
Routines are required to be no more than 2½ minutes long and are judged on skill difficulty and the execution of those skills, including cheers, jumps and stunts.
“The girls had a great routine. It was very skill-heavy and showcased their skills really well,” Finch said. “Their tumbling, stunting, jumps, running tumbling, standing tumbling, dancing skills, cheering skills — it was a great routine that showcased and highlighted their skills very well. To earn second, we just had to earn the favor of the judges.”
Madison Chesshire, one of three seniors on the squad, said she was proud of the way everyone supported each other through at least four major injuries they suffered during the season.
“I think that other than the huge amount of hard work we put into it, the thing we can attribute to our success was our closeness,” she said. “We never once referred to each other as our teammates, but our family members. We spent every day after school together for three hours, then spent Saturday’s calming each other down before competitions. I think our closeness helped our team overcome the huge struggles that we faced … I wouldn’t have wanted to end my season with any other coaches, or any other group of girls.”