After placing third at the Region 6-AAAAAA meet, Lambert’s competitive cheerleaders knew they needed a near flawless performance to have a shot at a state championship.
That’s exactly what the Lady Longhorns delivered.
Lambert collected its first state championship in program history, scoring 291 points out of a possible 300 to win the Class 6A crown on Saturday at the Columbus Civic Center in Columbus.
Lambert edged runner-up and region rival Johns Creek by six points in the final standings.
One judge gave Lambert a perfect score of 100 on Saturday, while each of the other four judges gave no less than a 95. The highest and lowest score are dropped, resulting in the best numbers Lambert second-year head coach Brent Paige has seen out of the fourth-year program this season.
"It was one for the history books," Paige said. "It was, by far, the best routine of the year. The girls were ecstatic and it really felt good.
"Everyone did their job and believed in themselves. We really peaked at the right time."
The Lady Longhorns finished fourth in the Class 4A state meet last season.
In order to reach Saturday’s competition, the Lady Longhorns had to participate in sectionals on Friday against 15 other teams that didn’t win their region. The top eight advanced to the finals on Saturday to compete against the eight region champions. Johns Creek edged Lambert by four points for first place at sectionals, but both squads easily advanced.
"Sectionals is all about survival," Paige said. "I wanted them to feel confident in themselves so it would carry over to Saturday.
"[Getting third at regionals] was a good wake-up call. It meant for us to win the biggest prize at the end was going to take a flawless performance."
Saturday wasn’t easy on the Lady Longhorns’ nerves.
They performed at 9:30 a.m. and had to wait three hours until the last team went before they were able to celebrate.
"We had to sweat it out," Paige said. "Johns Creek and Mill Creek did a great job, but we put on the best routine. They really had so much energy; it was second to none on the floor.
"You could see the energy building. Their faces had that glow to them."
Senior Meredith Rhodes said she wanted to make her last competition one to remember.
"The dance [routine] was the best part," Rhodes said.
"We got everything right, and coming out of that we had confidence that we could get first.
"I didn’t know what was going to happen. I just wanted my last time to be the best. This team is like a family. We did it for each other."