Bartow County typically has a couple of teams competing for a state title at the Georgia High School Association state cheerleading championships, and 2017 wasn’t any different.
While all four county high school teams qualified for the state finals in their respective classifications — an impressive feat in its own right — two county schools placed in the top five this weekend at the Columbus Civic Center.
Adairsville finished better than it ever had before, as the Tigers earned third in Class 3A on Saturday.
Woodland, defending its 2016 coed state title, did not have as good of a routine in the finals as it did at sectionals the week before, but still managed to place fourth out of 16 teams in the finals on Friday.
The AHS competition cheer squad continued its recent upward trend with its third-place finish.
The Tigers have gone from just outside the top 10 in 2014, to 10th in 2015, to seventh in 2016, to now in the top three.
Head coach Kaylie Noe reflected on the program’s newfound success after the Class 3A competition.
“I think, absolutely, Adairsville is making a name for itself,” Noe said. “This season, we definitely earned some respect from the cheer community.
“Every season has just consistently gotten better and better and better. You think, as a coach, it just can’t get any better, and than this. Proud is not even the word to explain it. They have done so amazingly well this season.”
Because Adairsville placed first in the hyper-competitive Region 6-AAA competition last weekend, the team was able to bypass sectionals Friday and go right to the state competition Saturday.
At state, Adairsville earned an 87.67, which was five points ahead of fourth-place Morgan County, and only trailing first-place Pierce County and Calhoun.
“I think we had a really entertaining routine,” Noe said. “I think it’s easy to hit the score sheet and do the minimum to score well, but our choreographer, Frank, was amazing. So, in addition to hitting the score sheet, our routine is just entertaining and fun to watch.”
Adairsville won all five of its competitions this year preceding state, including a region competition that featured seven of the top 16 teams in Class 3A.
Noe assigned much of the credit to her five seniors, captain Brooke Bishop, as well as Addison Mealer, Katie Mulkey, Emily Abernathy and Brissa Perez.
“We only had five girls who had competed on the mat before this season. And so the girls came in this season and worked unbelievably hard,” Noe said. “They knew nothing was going to come easy to them. They were going to have to work for every bit of success that they had. They took the challenge on and excelled.”
For the defending state champs, expectations were high entering the coed state championship finals.
The bar has been set high, and while the ’Cats were unable to repeat, fourth in the state out of 16 teams is representative of the standard the program has set.
That’s especially true considering Woodland did not hit its best routine Friday at the Columbus Civic Center.
“We did really well at sectionals. In the finals, we did not hit our routine,” head coach Kathi Shedd said. “We dropped a stunt and had some bobbles, and a little off on a running-tumbling pass. It was just a rough day. We just had a rough outing.”
It speaks to the team’s talent that it still placed so high.
“If we had hit, we would have won,” Shedd said. “I truly feel that way, just from looking at the score sheets. But we didn’t.”
Woodland performed better in the sectionals last weekend, when it placed fifth to earn a bid to the finals on Friday. However, the rest of the season was a little rocky, even though the team won four of its five competitions before sectionals.
“We had to redo the routine five different times just from missing different people,” Shedd said. “But they did well. It’s definitely a talented group of kids. The majority of the seniors will cheer in college next year.”