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BA wins state cheerleading title

    MACON — Bulloch Academy student-athletes have won state championships in football, baseball, track and field, softball, soccer, tennis and golf through the years, but never, ever in cheerleading.
    That changed Saturday when the school’s competition cheerleading squad won the Georgia Independent School Association (GISA) Class AA competition cheerleading state championship.  
    “I had told the girls this morning before the competition that they, because of their months of dedication and hard work, were one of the most prepared teams that I’d ever taken to a state competition,” said BA varsity cheerleading coach Kem Dennard. “All they had to do was execute and the state championship was theirs.”
    According to Dennard, the squad performed a high-energy, two-and-a-half minute routine that included such moves as basket tosses, liberties, pyramids, tumbling and precision dances.
    “Everything was clean and precise and they executed the whole routine wonderfully,” said Dennard. “Our stunting was awesome. They performed a clean, tight and controlled routine. The sharpness and dancing really stood out.”
    The team was judged on motions, dance, jumps, tumbling and showmanship by six judges.
    The Lady Gators won by three points over the squad from Briarwood Academy. Tiftarea Academy was third in the eight-squad competition, which was held at Tattnall Square Academy. In November, Briarwood had defeated Bulloch Academy by 13 points in the Heart of Sandersville cheerleading competition.
    “We knew that our competition was Tiftarea and Briarwood,” said Dennard. “When Tiftarea was announced in third place, we knew it was going to be close with Briarwood. When Briarwood was announced as the state runner-up, we had girls screaming and crying and jumping up and down. They were really excited.”
    Members of the first-ever BA state championship competition cheerleading squad are seniors Katy Howard, Chelsea Williams, Nicole Fowler, Allison Smith, Chelsi Lewis, juniors Rebekah Beasley, Catherine Ball and Mary Beth Eckles, sophomores Anna Foy and Ashlie Smith and freshmen Candice Boyett, Courtney Burnette, Kate Duggan, Kailey Hinton, Taylor Nelson and Olivia Sewak.  
    “One thing which really, really helped us today was the fan support,” said Dennard. “We had a lot of people drive up from Statesboro to cheer for the girls. That really helped calm the them down. There’s a showmanship part to the performance and having familiar faces in the audience really helped the girls feel more at ease when they were doing their routine.”

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