Over the past several years, the Gordon Lee High School competition cheerleading squad has established a reputation of performing at a championship level when the team needed it the most.
Never was that more evident than at the GHSA State Championships Saturday morning at the Macon Centreplex.
Approximately one minute into their routine, a rare mistake on a stunt threatened to derail the team's quest for another state title.
But it was at that moment that the Navy-and-White's championship pedigree came to the forefront.
Knowing they still had a chance to score the points they needed, Gordon Lee refocused and rose to the occasion. And when the winner was announced a short time later, there were plenty of happy tears to go around as the Chickamauga dynasty added to its trophy collection with a sixth consecutive Class A Public School state title.
"It feels amazing," said head coach Kelley Whitman. "We really, really worked hard for this one. We had a mishap early in the routine that we haven't had happen all season, so they really had to fight for every point from that point forward.
"They knew that every point mattered and they did such a good job. They executed as well as I possibly could have hoped and they got the points they needed to get it back. It was just awesome."
Gordon Lee's score of 90, low by the program's lofty standards, was still 5.5 more than both Commerce and Armuchee. The Tigers would get the runner-up spot on a tiebreaker, while Lake Oconee Academy and Trion rounded out the top five in the classification.
"It takes perseverance and it also takes an understanding of the rubric, which they really do have," Whitman explained. "They understand where the score comes from and how to, very quickly in their heads, figure out how to get back the points they lost.
"To have gone from our elite stunt to our pyramid, and then to execute that pyramid as well as they've done all season to make up for it, it was very impressive."
It was a big weekend for the Gordon Lee squad, but especially Kilie Wilson, the lone senior on the team. Not only did Wilson become part of another state-title winning squad, she also was notified that she got her acceptance letter to the University of Georgia.
Gordon Lee was one of a number of local teams that qualified and competed in Macon.
The next-best finisher for the immediate area was Heritage. After placing third at the Class AAAA sectionals at Morgan County last weekend, the Navy-and-Red finished fourth in the state finals, one spot ahead of sectional winner Central-Carroll.
Heritage also celebrated senior Allie Parker, who was named to the GCCA All-State Team for Classes A-AAAA.
Ridgeland also took the floor, but did not finish in the top five of Class AAAA. Ringgold and LaFayette also performed in Macon, but did not finish in the top six of Class AAA. The only squad from Region 6-AAA to make it into the top six was Sonoraville, who placed sixth.
In addition to Gordon Lee's sixth overall state championship, Mt. Paran Christian won its 10th state title in a row in Class A Private, while Northgate won its 10th state title overall, but its first in the Co-Ed Division. Class AAAAAAA champion South Forsyth celebrated its second state title in a row and its ninth all-time. South Forsyth has now won state in four different classifications.
McIntosh three-peated in Class AAAAA and picked up its seventh all-time GHSA state cheerleading championship, while Bleckley County won in Class AA. It was the third all-time state title for the program and its first title since 2001. And in Class AAAAAA, Creekview won for the second time in the last three years.
Two other programs celebrated their first-ever state cheerleading championship. Jefferson, sectional runner-up at Morgan County, took the Class AAAA state crown, while Dawson County won in Class AAA.