The Briarwood Academy varsity cheerleading squad has captured the Georgia Independent Schools Association Class AA State Championship for a second straight year.
It marks the first time in the school's 40-year history that an athletics team has won back-to-back titles.
"This is just awesome," said a jubilant senior Anna Goolsby, of Washington. "All of our hard work really paid off. All of us seniors wanted to go out with a bang and now we can. I think the other athletic teams now have a lot more respect for what we do as cheerleaders."
She and the other two seniors on the squad, Lindsey Burnley and Sherrer Long, were all members of last year's first state championship team.
The feat equally was special for Marcie Rivers, a freshman, and Shannon Newsome, a sophomore.
"I'd love to do it five years in a row," said Rivers. "That would be crazy."
There's a chance she could accomplish such a goal before graduating because she started cheering on the varsity squad in the eighth grade.
"Winning the state championship for the second year in a row has really brought us closer," said Newsome. "We're really all close friends and have a good time together."
Briarwood's latest cheerleading title was captured on Saturday, Nov. 20 at First Presbyterian Day School in Macon when the squad competed against nine others in Class AA. The Lady Buccaneers tabulated a score of 278.5 out of 300. They managed to out-dual the Edmund Burke Academy cheerleading squad, who finished runners-up, posting a score of 255.
Briarwood nearly perfected a 21/2-minute routine, which they repeated during halftime of the boys' basketball game last week. The winning routine consisted of tumbling, dance, cheering and stunts. They were judged on execution, difficulty, showmanship and overall performance.
In Macon, the cheerleading squad was supported by a host of parents, faculty, and athletic teams from the school, including several members of the varsity football team who played the night before in Dawson in the semi-final round of the Class A state playoffs.
It was the school's ninth year competing for state recognition. Briarwood Academy's squad, coached by Amy Kent Hadden and Lisa Russell Newsome, actually posted a higher score than the Class AAA state champions, Trinity Christian School.
"I'm so proud of all of them," remarked Hadden, who is completing her 10th year as the school's cheerleading head coach. "This is a very talented group of girls. They all know what they can do when they get together. They mesh very well."
Hadden is a 1992 graduate of Briarwood Academy and was a cheerleader there for six years.
Newsome believes one of the secrets to success for this year's squad is the way they get along.
"They were mature and blessed with a lot of skills. It was really amazing being around them and watching their performances during competition," Newsome said.
The state title isn't the squad's only accomplishment this year. On Oct. 31, they won the AA Division, titled The Spirit of Sandersville, which was hosted by Brentwood High School. The squad's second win came on Nov. 7 when they competed in Bring It 2 The 'Boro, which was hosted by Bullock Academy in Statesboro. Then on Nov. 14, Briarwood Academy hosted the Fourth Annual Cheerfest. The Briarwood squad was not allowed to compete since they were the host team.
Briarwood's state championship cheerleading squad consists of: Lindsey Burnley, Anna Goolsby, Sherrer Long, Sara Betts Brunner, Rachel Coxwell, Kristian Dawson, Ashlyn Dent, Shannon Newsome, Taylor Rabun, Kayla Rhodes, Taylor Newton, Marcie Rivers, Ariel Russell, Copeland Price and Brook Stewart.