Greenbrier High School's competitive cheerleaders brought home a Region 3-AAAA championship last weekend. They did it the hard way.
The Lady Wolfpack faced off against the rest of the region for an opportunity to advance to the state competition this weekend. The squad had high hopes entering the competition after regular-season wins over rivals Lakeside and Evans.
"We were the defending region champions, so we knew we could win it," competition cheerleading coach Brent Paige said. "We were all pumped up."
Things seemed to be going according to plan for Greenbrier until junior Halye Cohen attempted a difficult tumbling pass midway through the routine. She nailed the pass perfectly -- but the landing was another story.
"It all happened so fast," Paige said. "She went threw a tumbling pass she had never done in competition before. She threw it, landed it, and I was excited. But then I thought, 'Oh, no.' She hit the ground and screamed. Apparently, she landed with all her weight on her right leg as she was twisting."
The judges immediately stopped the routine as Cohen lay crumpled on the mat. Greenbrier freshman Alyssa Kay, an alternate on the team, was offstage but near Cohen when the injury occurred.
"I was about three feet from Halye," she said. "I didn't see her land weird, but the look on her face was one of the scariest things I've ever seen."
Trainers on hand immediately tended to Cohen.
"I don't know what happened," she said. "It was pretty bad. I felt something pop when I landed. It didn't really hit me until the paramedics had to straighten my leg right there."
She was taken to a nearby hospital by ambulance. Cohen said she broke her tibia and the other bone in her leg shifted. An MRI earlier this week revealed heavy ligament damage.
As Cohen was on her way to the hospital, Paige and his squad were left with a half-finished routine.
"The judge came up to me and explained my options," he said. "We could put in an alternate and pick up where we left off, or we could just do it with one person down. I looked at Alyssa and said, 'You can do it.' "
Kay had filled in earlier this year when Cohen missed time with a broken nose. The Greenbrier freshman joined the rest of the squad on stage and finished the routine.
"I was really nervous. I definitely had a lot of adrenaline going," Kay said. "I was told it was one of the best performances I've ever done."
Kay proved to be a strong replacement. Despite the setback, Greenbrier won the Region 3-AAAA championship in front of second-place Lakeside. The Lady Wolfpack advanced to the Class AAAA state competition Saturday. Cohen, who was scheduled to undergo surgery Thursday, couldn't participate, but Kay was ready to sub.
"I think they have a really good chance," Cohen said Wednesday. "I have no doubt Alyssa's going to do fine."
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.