GREENVILLE What a difference a year makes.
In 2011, Fort Mill High School’s Cheerleading Team was “unprepared” for the S.C. Class AAAA Championships – as one members puts it – and the squad didn’t make a very good showing.
Fast forward to this past weekend, when the team, consisting of 27 girls and one boy coached by Jill Mathews, went to Greenville with a different approach and emerged in the top five, in fourth place (Fort Mill finished behind four other teams in points, but there was a tie for third place).
“We were very unprepared last year going into competition,” senior Sarah Jean Stalions said. “This year, with every competition, we knew what to expect and we knew we were going to hit it.”
Nation Ford High School also competed and came in 15th place at the Bi-Lo Center.
Both teams had an even larger challenge this season than in the past because of the two schools recent move from Class AAA to Class AAAA. This move motivated both teams to work hard to become a threat in this highly competitive class.
After winning its region, Fort Mill was very confident going into the S.C. finals.
“We are going in wanting the win, not necessarily expecting the win. We have a great team and are hoping for the best,” said senior Halle Hillman.
Although the team took fourth place at State, the competition was so tough that the top five teams, including Fort Mill, had only an 11-point difference in score.
“Going from AAA to AAAA, last at state to top five and regional champs – we have had an amazing season,” Mathews said.
Nation Ford’s team, coached by Kristin Rhodes, knew it had to work harder because of the new competition.
“We are a very young team and we have worked extremely hard,” senior Kailey Taylor said. “This year has allowed us to not take anything for granted and really made us work to be good.”
With the competition stronger than years past, the team was able to bond more and challenge each other to be the best they could be.
“Changing from AAA to AAAA really made us work hard this year, we are proud to have made it to states and hope to do our Nation Ford family proud,” Rhodes said.
“We just want to leave it all on the mat at States,” senior Lauren Kidd said.
Boiling Springs took home the overall title and Lexington was first runner-up.