The North Jackson cheerleading squad entered the 2019 AHSAA Cheer Championships on a quest for redemption.
North Jackson had endured two consecutive state runner-up finishes, and this entire season was a “redemption season,” said head coach Meagan Willis.
That redemption came to fruition when the Chiefs claimed the Class 4A state championship in the traditional division Saturday night at Wallace State Community College in Hanceville.
“They’ve worked so hard for that,” Willis said of the North Jackson cheerleaders. “We have tryouts in March, and we work from then for (the state competition). I’m excited for them. I was excited for our seniors because they’d come so close in the past.”
North Jackson’s team consists of Lacey McAllister, Samantha Gardner, Chloe Britton, Whitney Allison, Malorie Bynum, Addison Cooper, Cassidy Bevel, Asden Whisenant, Shanele Hutchins, Lilly Smith, Tori Whisenant, Hannah Mayes, Madison Carter, Lindsay Chisenall, Ashlyn Blizard, Holli Guess, Abby Allison, Lucy Alred and Kolbi Hill.
North Jackson closed the competition with a team score of 80 points, edging state runner-up Cleburne County (78.10 points). Good Hope (76.55) finished third while Oneonta fourth (65.10) and Elmore County fifth (62.30).
It was the seventh all-tome state cheer championship for North Jackson.
The traditional division features a 2:30 routine, 1:30 of music for dancing, stunting and tumbling and one minute for cheering. Teams get points for a number of things, including execution in tumbling, stunts, pyramid formation and crowd involvement. Teams are given their deduction points when they leave the floor, but must wait until the awards ceremony to see their final score.
North Jackson had a fall during its routine, and although Cleburne County did as well, Willis said North Jackson went to the awards ceremony expecting to finish second.
“They were so excited when they found out we’d won,” Willis said. “When you don’t think you’re going to get it and you do, that’s an amazing feeling. Even with our mistakes, the judges saw the talent of this team. The difficulty of the routine was harder than anyone else’s in our division. However, those mistakes that were made on the floor Saturday taught us a valuable lesson. We'll remember that next season when we go for a back-to-back 4A state title.”