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Troup chasing a championship

By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY

Daily News

They’re chasing a championship.

Under coach Amelia Key, Troup High’s cheerleading team has been a consistent state-title contender, and it has finished in the top five at the past two state meets.

Troup will take another shot at state glory this weekend in Columbus.

First up will be the Class AAAA state sectional on Friday, and if Troup has one of the eight best scores, it will advance to the state finals on Saturday.

“Our mindset this weekend is, we don’t need to worry about anyone else,” said Riley Ferguson, one of five seniors on the team. “We just need to do our job, because at the end of the day, we can’t control what anyone else puts on the mat. So our goal on Friday and Saturday is to do our absolute best, and do our job.”

It’s been a typically strong season for Troup, which has participated in six competitions and has two first-place finishes, two second-place results, and a third-place finish. The team members have put in the work, and now it’s time to go out and try to deliver a stand-out performance on the state’s biggest stage.

“I’m confident, and I think our team is confident in our abilities,” said senior Caroline Blanks. “It’s one of those things that, you put it in God’s hands at this point, and you hope that you’ll do what you practiced.”

Senior Brooke Lynch said “we’re very excited” about competing at state.

“I feel like the nerves are there, but I think that’s a good thing,” Lynch added. “I think everybody is so excited, and ready to show what we can do. I think we’ll do great.”

Lynch said everything she and her teammates have been doing has been leading to this moment.

“From the very first competition, we build, and build, and build,” Lynch said. “We work harder and harder, and get better and better.”

Another one of the seniors, Chloe Bishop, said “I feel like if everybody gives everything they have, then we have a very good shot at winning.”

While each of the cheerleaders is talented in her own right, senior Katilyn Butler said having everyone operating on the same page is critical.

“That’s 100 percent of it,” she said. “The only individual thing you really do is your tumbling, but even then, some people tumble together, and your timing together counts.”

A lot of time and effort has gone into making that team work look smooth and seamless, and Ferguson said it helps that all of the cheerleaders get along so well.

“Being on the team for four years, this team has been more of a family, and more cohesive,” Ferguson said. “We hang out. It’s been a family, a sisterhood. It’s been very nice, and we’ve always motivated each other.”

Lynch, echoing Ferguson’s thoughts, said “our team is so much closer this year. We’re just close as a team. We bond together. We can get frustrated with each other, but we always come back stronger after we calm down.”

Last weekend, Troup finished fourth in the Region 5-AAAA competition, and while that wasn’t the result the team was looking for, Key’s message to the cheerleaders was that the most important competition was still to come.

“It wasn’t our cleanest performance (at region), and they were a little down,” Key said. “I told them, guys, the region champs from last year didn’t win state. It’d be nice to have both under your belt, but if you have to have one, you want the state championship.”

Key said some injuries throughout the fall has created a revolving door in the lineup, but that hasn’t kept the team from having another strong season.

“We’ve had several with injuries this year, so we’ve had to re-work the routine, almost every week,” Key said. “They’ve had a very challenging season as far as consistency, but they’ve come back every week and stepped up, and supported each other, and put a team on the mat each week that placed. That’s a testament to how serious and dedicated they are.”