Cheerleading State Championship Preview

ajc.com

The 2019-20 GHSA Cheerleading State Championships return to the Columbus Civic Center for two days of electrifying routines and competition this Friday and Saturday. The first day of action will see squads from each classification (AA-AAAAAAA) compete to secure a place in Saturday’s finals. Day 1 will also crown the champs of Class A-Public, Class A-Private and the high-flying COED Competition.

Class A-Public has seen Gordon Lee win the last three state crowns, and the Trojans are making their return to Columbus to compete against Commerce, Lake Oconee Academy, Irwin County, Bowdon, Baconton, ACE Charter and Lincoln County on Friday for this year’s title.

When Class A split for the first time seven years ago, Mt. Paran began its current championship run and the Eagles enter the weekend having taken the Class A-Private championship every year since. The Eagles headline a field of finalists this year that includes Savannah Christian, Brookstone, Hebron Christian, First Presbyterian Day, George Walton Academy, Calvary Day and Pinecrest Academy.

Mill Creek won its first-ever CO-ED state title last year and recently placed second at the CO-ED Sectionals behind North Gwinnett. Milton, Chapel Hill and Forsyth Central also had top 5 finishes and will be among the 16 teams contending for this year’s CO-ED title.

SATURDAY’S SPOTLIGHT

In Class AAAAAAA, East Coweta, North Paulding, Woodstock, South Forsyth, Discovery, Brookwood, Archer and Lowndes are booked for the finals on Saturday after placing first in their respective regions this past weekend. Defending state champion Lambert placed second in Region 5-AAAAAAA behind South Forsyth and therefore will be one of the 16 squads that will take the stage on Friday in hopes of qualifying for Saturday’s finals.

Northgate earned the top seed out of Region 5-AAAAAA over the weekend and will aim for its fifth-straight Class AAAAAA title this Saturday. The Vikings previously won 5-straight titles in 2007-11 and another title would give the program its tenth all-time title. Northgate is already joined in the finals by top seeds Houston County (Region 1), Richmond Hill (Region 2), Lakeside-Evans (Region 3), M.L. King (Region 4), Creekview (Region 6), Pope (Region 7) and Region 8 champion Lanier.

Two-time defending Class AAAAA champion Carrollton (Region 7) secured one of the classification’s seven spots in Saturday’s finals with Warner Robins (Region 1) South Effingham (Region 2), McIntosh (Region 3), Ola (Region 4), Lithia Springs (Region 6) and Loganville. On Friday, a field of 23 Class AAAAA teams will compete for one of the 9 spots that are still available for Saturday’s finals.

Defending Class AAAA state champion Cartersville won its fourth all-time state title and first since 2014 this past year. Class AAAA is the only classification that has seen three different champions (Chapel Hill 2017, Cedartown 2016) the last three seasons. The Canes earned a spot in this year’s finals with a first-place finish over Cedartown, Central-Carroll, Troup and LaGrange in Region 5-AAAA. Mary Persons, Eastside, Heritage-Catoosa, St. Pius, Columbus and second-year program Denmark have also secured finals spots, leaving nine open for Friday’s 23 squads to contend over.

Region 2-AAA champion Pierce County will appear in Saturday’s finals searching for its fifth straight title and seventh state crown in the last eight years. In addition to the Bears, Class AAA’s Saturday field already includes finalists Southeast Bulloch, Pace Academy, Adairsville, Dawson County, Jefferson and Crisp County.

Armuchee is returning to the finals after winning Region 7-AA and will look for its third-straight state title and fourth in the last six years. 2016 state champion Vidalia has also already qualified for Saturday after placing first out of Region 2-AA ahead of Pepperell, Model, Coosa, Chattooga, Dade County and Rockmart.