If Forsyth County wasn't the center of acrobatics in Georgia, it is now.
Lambert, South Forsyth and West Forsyth finished first, second and third, respectively, in Class 7A at the Georgia High School Association competitive cheerleading state championships Saturday at the Columbus Civic Center—and for the second year in a row it could have gone either way.
Lambert edged rival South 289-288, marking the second consecutive season that the Lady Longhorns edged the Lady War Eagles by a single point. This time West also entered the mix, taking third place with a score of 283.
Lambert now has four state titles in five seasons—only having a second place finish to Peachtree Ridge two seasons ago. The county as a whole now has 10 competitive cheer titles since the GHSA began holding state meets in 1993; South won six out of seven between 1996 and 2002.
This all comes after Forsyth Central finished runner up in gymnastics at the state meet in April at Westminster, falling just short of Buford.
When asked what has made the county such a mecca for gymnastics and competitive cheerleading, Lambert head coach Brent Paige hypothesized.
“Man, I get asked that question a lot,” Paige said. “I think it's just the community. There's a lot of investment in the sport, especially in the earlier stages, that you don't see in some other places around the state.”
Even though Lambert won consecutive titles on Saturday, the celebration from the team was electric. Paige even admits he looked more excited than some of the players.
“It's the excitement to get to share that moment with the team,” Paige said. “Just like every year we've won it, we came second in the region, so, we know we are capable but it's always been up and down. We've had to climb. This season we had six new varsity girls, so even though we've been to state and won before it's a huge challenge. They all stepped up when it counted.”
Those six newcomers included junior Sammie Spera, sophomores Katie Bayer and Ashleigh Brannigan, and freshman Caroline Harris and Maddy Vanderweele. Lambert's victorious seniors are Autumn Ashley, Savannah Cook and Hadley Trinkwon.
Lambert had to go to sectionals on Friday, where it won, setting up a momentous run on championship day. The Lady Longhorns hit the floor fourth out of the 16 teams, so they didn't have to wait long for their routine. That was contrast to years past when they've had to wait toward the end of the day.
“We've done it both ways,” Paige said. “In my experience I like when we go ahead, get out there and get it done instead of sitting back and building nerves. We almost didn't have time to be nervous because we were getting off the bus, straight into warm ups.”
It was a close call, but when asked if he wants to create more separation between county rivals in the future Paige took a reserved approach.
“If it's one point every year I'll take it,” he laughed.