Gor­don Lee cheer­lead­ers ready to de­fend their state crown

The Catoosa County News - - COMMENTARY - By Scott Herpst

The phrase “de­fend­ing state cham­pi­ons” brought a quick smile to Gor­don Lee cheer coach Mandy Stur­di­vant’s face, but when asked how her squad in­tends to re­peat as Class A Pub­lic School state cheer­lead­ing cham­pi­onship, the smile up broke just a bit.

“We’re go­ing to have to work re­ally hard,” she said. “We have a young squad, but a very tal­ented squad. We have as much tal­ent as we’ve ever had and just as much as we had last year, but we just don’t have the same ex­pe­ri­ence (as last year).

“We have three se­niors and two ju­niors and lots of un­der­class­men, but the (un­der­class­men) bring a lot of tal­ent to the ta­ble, so the po­ten­tial there. Still though, we have a lot of work to do in the next cou­ple of months.”

Those se­niors in­clude Chloe Keith, Ali Mil­li­can and Ansleigh Stur­di­vant, while the ju­nior con­tin­gent is made up of Erica Jones and Au­tumn Uren.

“The good thing is that the se­niors have cheered to­gether all the way through mid­dle school, so they’ve been to­gether for a long time and they’ve al­ways got­ten along great,” Stur­di­vant said. “They got their first taste of a state cham­pi­onship last year. Now they know what it’s like and they want to do well (again). They also know the com­pe­ti­tion they’re up against, with teams like Trion, Com­merce and Hawkinsville, so I think all of the re­turn­ers are much more mo­ti­vated (this year).”

The sopho­more class in­cludes Kaylee Claire, Kara Roper, Bai­ley Schrader, Baleigh Smith, Cam­den Tins­ley, Asia Un­der­wood, Kylie Walker and Jor­dan Yancey, while a large fresh­man group is made up of Kaylee Ashby, El­lie Bow­ers, Ma­cie Cameron, Abbey Dun­fee, Kai­ley Holmes, Marida Jack­son and Rae­lyn Mad­dux.

“It’s a big­ger fresh­man group than we’ve had in years,” Stur­di­vant said. “A lot of them came down to state last year, so they at least know what it’s like down there, even if they haven’t been on the other side of it yet. You can try and pre­pare a team men­tally, but it’s dif­fer­ent in that arena (in Colum­bus) than it is in any other high school gym that you per­form in all year. Hav­ing a lot of them down (last year) there to see it is ben­e­fi­cial, I think.”

The vet­eran coach be­lieves that tum­bling is the still the team’s strength.

“It’s sort of a dou­bleedged sword,” she said. “We fi­nally have some tiny, lit­tle girls with po­ten­tial to be fly­ers, which we’ve needed. In past years, we’ve only had three or four and if one got hurt, we were in trou­ble. This year, we have sev­eral girls with the po­ten­tial to be fly­ers if we need them.

“But the other side is, they are tiny, lit­tle girls and we need more girls than can be bases be­cause we lost a lot from last year as far as strength goes.”

Still, the re­sults have been promis­ing so far as Gor­don Lee took first place in the Class A divi­sion at their first two meets of the sea­son.

With no area com­pe­ti­tion for Class A schools, Gor­don Lee will head to Colum­bus in Novem­ber, look­ing to win a sec­tional ti­tle on the first day of com­pe­ti­tion, or at least get into the top eight to ad­vance to the fi­nals. The Navy-and-White

won sec­tion­als last year, paving the way for that long-awaited first state ti­tle.

“It was nice to win sec­tion­als last year be­cause then we knew we had that po­ten­tial to do well the next day,” Stur­di­vant added. “We have to shoot for top eight (at sec­tion­als) to be there for the fi­nals and it will take hard work to get there. It won’t be easy.”

The Gor­don Lee High School com­pe­ti­tion cheer­lead­ing se­niors in­clude (from left) Ansleigh Stur­di­vant, Chloe Keith and Ali Mil­li­can. (Photo by Scott Herpst)

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