With a “Top Gun” theme this season, the Pepperell competition cheerleaders were aiming high, and that’s exactly where they ended up last Saturday at the Macon Coliseum as the Lady Dragons finished as state runners-up in Class A.
Pepperell put together a strong performance that was among the best in the classification with choreography, stunts, tumbling and formations, making it a tough decision on the judges. The final scores were close, putting the Lady Dragons in the second spot behind fellow Floyd County team Armuchee.
Pepperell, under the direction of new head coach Trista Edge and assistant coach Becky McCoy, worked hard over the last several months to not only develop, practice and perfect its routine, but to also form a tight bond as a family to overcome challenges and injuries to achieve its goals.
“The year wasn’t an easy year,” Edge said. “The team experienced multiple injuries that took girls out for several competitions and weeks of preparation. They were blessed with an amazing alternate that filled some big shoes and helped her team complete an undefeated regular season.
“Throughout the year, this team developed a sisterhood like no other we have seen. Within the last eight months, these 17 girls have become a family with a bond that will never be broken.”
The season started off last summer with the team learning choreography to become the “Top Gun” Dragons. Each girl was given a call sign, and throughout the year, the team reached “Mach 10” goals they set for themselves and their team.
“These girls met numerous tumbling and stunting goals to create a dynamic routine that absolutely impressed not only the judges, but everyone at the Macon Coliseum and all over the state for anyone that saw it, based on social media shoutouts and an abundance of texts, calls, messages and personal conversations had with the cheerleaders and their coaches,” Edge said. “Seniors Bethanee Wiggins, Macie Morgan, Kendal Crews, Macy Galenzoski and Kaylee Phillips were determined after tryouts to make this season one to remember, and they did just that. Their leadership and ability to unify this team is what made this year the success that it was. The underclassmen were taught cheerleading skills, life skills and the ability to have fun doing what you love. It is amazing that this group was able to bring back a state runner-up title to PHS.”
Pepperell’s full team included Crews, Morgan, Galenzoski, Wiggins, Phillips, Madalyn Garcia, Kiley Hardigree, Krista Reynolds, Ava Moses, June Miller, Kinsley DeBoard, Piper Phillips, Gracie Reynolds, Madison Newberry, Brookelyn Easterwood, Khloe Hann and Emma Hann.
Edge said she was proud of her team for their accomplishments and hard work and thankful for everyone that played a part in the season.
“Making the decision to return to coaching was one that I did not take lightly and considered many factors when making my decision,” Edge said. “This team, these girls, their parents and this year made it all worth it. From the very beginning, I knew this team was special and had so much potential to make a state title run. Watching them hit a flawless routine at state was something I will never forget. Behind the curtain, I told them that no matter the outcome please remember this feeling for the rest of your life and know that you gave it your all. I am a mother of three boys, but having 17 daughters has been such a rewarding addition. I tell them nothing they could do would make me love them more or less, but their performance on that mat Saturday and how proud they were of themselves made my heart full. Proud coach, proud Dragon alum.
“We would like to thank everyone for their support, well wishes, congratulatory messages, and comments that the girls will remember forever. Hearing from you on Saturday and the days following made them feel like a million bucks. We are PHS and this IS Dragon Country!”
Edge also said she was proud of all the teams in the school system that represented so well at the state championship, which included Armuchee’s state championship and Coosa’s 10th-place finish in Class A and Model’s eighth-place finish in Class AA.
“Congratulations to all four Floyd County high schools on their top-10 performances,” Edge said. “It makes me proud to be a part of a system where I was raised and cheered, then watch how successful they are against all other counties in the state of Georgia.”