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Lakeside cheerleading team posts record season

Posted: November 26, 2016 - 10:41pm
The Lakeside competitive cheerleading team won six first-place trophies in a record-setting campaign. Pictured are: Back row (from left): Megan Smith, Caroline Brown, Grace McDonald, Bri Cochran, Bethany Forbus, Allie Oellerich. Middle row (from left): Coach Cyndi Blair, Kenzie McCray, Kaylee Davis, Brooklyn Hilley, Taylor Lyons, Hannah Hoyt. Front row (from left): Daniela Sotelo, Madeleine Rojas, Lucy Flowers, Samantha Barrett, Sarah McDaniel, Sydney Lovelace.  Chris Gay/Staff
Chris Gay/Staff
The Lakeside competitive cheerleading team won six first-place trophies in a record-setting campaign. Pictured are: Back row (from left): Megan Smith, Caroline Brown, Grace McDonald, Bri Cochran, Bethany Forbus, Allie Oellerich. Middle row (from left): Coach Cyndi Blair, Kenzie McCray, Kaylee Davis, Brooklyn Hilley, Taylor Lyons, Hannah Hoyt. Front row (from left): Daniela Sotelo, Madeleine Rojas, Lucy Flowers, Samantha Barrett, Sarah McDaniel, Sydney Lovelace.

The Lakeside competitive cheerleading team had a simple motto this past season: Unstoppable.

The Lady Panthers lived up to that motto, posting a record season. Lakeside won first-place trophies during the regular season and then added the Region 3-AAAAAA championship.

Cyndi Blair, who's been the coach since 2008, said she's never had a season where her team took first place in every regular season competition, along with the region championship.

"I put forth the challenge and pushed them beyond limits we had never gone before," Blair said. "They were able to rise up and meet the challenges. I knew what they were capable of. When they saw the greatness in themselves that I saw in them, that's when our success took off."

Team members include: Megan Smith, Caroline Brown, Grace McDonald, Bri Cochran, Bethany Forbus, Allie Oellerich, Kenzie McCray, Kaylee Davis, Brooklyn Hilley, Taylor Lyons, Hannah Hoyt, Daniela Sotelo, Madeleine Rojas, Lucy Flowers, Samantha Barrett, Sarah McDaniel and Sydney Lovelace.

Cochran said team chemistry is one of the reasons for the team's success this season.

"I don't know if it's just me," she said, "but I felt really close to this team."

McDaniel added: "This year, we just had a lot more talent, a lot more dedication. We wanted it more as the season went on."

The Lady Panthers began working on things like stunting, tumbling and jumps during the first week of the summer. They got their routine in mid-summer and started focusing on what they needed to do to start winning trophies. But things didn't start out well.

At their first competition at Alcovy High School, Lakeside was short-handed after McDaniel injured her back and couldn't perform. In addition, Samantha Barrett was added to the lineup to replace another cheerleader. Blair had to make an adjustment with her team, shifting players around for the first two events. Still, the Lady Panthers beat out their county rivals and won the Alcovy competition.

At the next event at Putnam County High School, Lakeside won its classification and also finished as grand champion, posting the highest overall score at the competition.

With the return of McDaniel for the third event, the Lady Panthers were back to full strength. Lakeside won its classification at Grayson High School, performing its 21/2-minute routine as a full stunt group.

"The first two competitions, we had to modify our routine," Blair said. "At the Grayson competition, we were able to compete our full routine with everybody the way it was supposed to be competed."

Lakeside added two more first-place titles during the regular season at Dacula and Winder-Barrow. Then, the Lady Panthers claimed its first region title in four years.

"I think we were all nervous, because we had won every other competition," McDaniel said about the region championship. "We were so nervous, because we wanted to win so bad."

By winning the region title, Lakeside qualified for the state championship. The Lady Panthers avoided sectionals after going there the past three seasons, advancing twice out of sectionals into the finals.

At the state championship, Lakeside finished 10th, the best showing these seniors have made there during their careers.

"It's been a few years since we've been in the top 10," Blair said. "As a coach, it was exciting to see my girls who have rebounded and really fought so hard this season."

Smith said the seven seniors on the squad are leaving behind a strong legacy. And it started when everything came together this season.

"The determination of this senior class rubbed off on everyone," she said. "I think that's what helped us."

 

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