Midlands teams vying for competitive cheer title
Since competitive cheer was introduced as a S.C. High School League sport in 1996, Midlands teams have dominated the trophy collections.
Starting with Airport in Class 4A, local teams have accounted for 25 state championships in the four classifications. Chapin High School has accounted for just over half of those championships with a state record 13.
Head coach Vicki Williams has led the program to 12 of those titles, including nine of the last 10 years.
The only team to interrupt that run of success was River Bluff. In 2013, the Lady Gators beat out the Lady Eagles to win the school’s first-ever state title in Class 3A.
“Along with my amazing coaching staff, we have built this program from the ground up and have enjoyed great success over the six seasons since our inception,” River Bluff head coach Koren Haney said. “Winning the state championship in 2013 was a feat that was beyond our wildest dreams and one of the greatest moments of my 21 years of coaching.”
Five years later, the two teams will go at it head-to-head again this Saturday at Colonial Life Arena. This time, it’s in Class 5A with another pair of former champions: Lexington and Dutch Fork.
The Lady Silver Foxes have accounted for both Class 5A championships since 2016, while the Lady Wildcats are seeking their third state title since 2013.
“The Midlands has some of the best athletes and coaches in the state,” Haney said. “With so much talent and dedication in our area, our girls continue to be pushed to take our routine and skills to a higher level. The competition is incredible, but it drives us to be better athletes and better coaches. “We have the utmost respect for our competitors and are honored to be in a region with such talent.”
Last Saturday at the Class 5A qualifier at River Bluff High School featured an all-Region 5-5A finish in the Top 4 rankings. The host team Lady Gators scored 352 points to place first by three points over Chapin, followed by Lexington (329) and the defending Class 5A champion Lady Silver Foxes (320).
White Knoll completed the qualifying sweep for Region 5-5A schools by placing eighth among the 16 finalists. “Winning (the Class 5A qualifier) was a huge boost of confidence for our team,” Haney said. “The girls have been working so hard all season and each week, we have seen improvement on the mat.
“But…we aren’t done yet, and we know that we have to continue to improve to grab the top spot at state. This is a big week for us. It is amazing to be region and (top Class 5A qualifier) in such a competitive region. It is a huge honor.”
The championships will start at 11 a.m. Saturday with Class 3A. Gray Collegiate (7th) and Gilbert (12th) qualified in Class 3A, while Brookland-Cayce and Airport finished 4th and 8th, respectively, at the Class 4A qualifier.