Gordon Lee Trojans

Just moments after watching her squad finish its routine on the floor of the Columbus Civic Center, Gordon Lee head competition cheerleading coach Kelley Whitman knew she had seen something special.

A couple of hours later, the judges confirmed what Whitman had already suspected...the Navy-and-White were state champions again.

While they fell just a few points shy of the 102 they earned at sectionals week ago in Macon, Gordon Lee's 98 points in Friday night's finals - the second-highest score for the team all season long - was more than enough to send the Class A Public School state championship trophy back to Chickamauga for a third consecutive year.

"When we finished, I thought that someone would have to be perfect to beat us," Whitman said. "The choreography of our routine was perfect and the girls did exactly what they needed to do to win."

After nearly 20 years of coming up short in the state finals, Gordon Lee finally got over the hump in 2016 and proved that the victory was no fluke as they repeated as state champions in 2017. In preparing for the 2018 finals, Whitman said that her team was very confident as they got set to try for a three-peat.

"We've got a big group of upperclassmen," she explained. "We've got a lot of people who have been there and done that before. We did have some freshmen that had never been in that venue before, but we showed them videos of what it was like and we practiced all week with the music blaring so we could practice communicating without hearing each other since it's so loud on the floor (at state).

"The upperclassmen took the younger kids under their wings and helped get them prepared. Everyone just worked so well together."

Nine-time state champion Commerce finished second with 83 points, followed by five-time state champion Trion with 77.67 points. Upstart Lake Oconee Academy (65.67) finished fourth.

Now with three state championships in a row under its belt, Gordon Lee is rapidly approaching dynasty mode, especially with just two seniors - Erica Jones and Autumn Uren - set to graduate from this year's squad and more talented athletes heading up from the middle school ranks.

"Those two seniors are going to be big losses for us because they are both flyers," Whitman added, "but we are really excited that a lot of our core group will be coming back."

And as for the post-championship celebration?

"We took a lot of photos and we eventually ended up eating at Burger King," Whitman said. "We had to get our crowns."