On Saturday the Lady Wildcats left nothing to chance as they clinched a state berth by winning the Region 7-AAAA championship at Roswell High, earning an automatic spot at this weekend’s Class AAAA Georgia High School Association Cheerleading State Championship at the Columbus Civic Center.
“They were so excited because it’s such a huge benefit,” Woodland coach Kathi Shedd said of her cheerleaders. “It’s such a huge relief to know that you’re going straight to state and you’re in.”
Had the Lady Wildcats placed either second, third or fourth, they would have had to go to sectionals on Friday and finish in the top eight among 24 teams — which is what Johns Creek, Lambert and South Forsyth, the region’s Nos. 2-4 teams, will have to do in hopes of competing at the state competition the next day.
Shedd and her team are just happy to be back at state after a brief hiatus.
“Last year was the first year in 10 years that we hadn’t been to state,” she said. “Every other year we’ve been in the top six [at state]. … This is huge for these kids because most of these kids are the same kids from last year.”
Woodland lost one girl from its 2010 team and many of the girls returned intent on making it back to Columbus. Falling short last season, when they placed fifth in their region, was a “huge wake-up call for these girls,” the Lady Wildcats coach said.
Entering Saturday’s region competition, Woodland had won four of its five competitions on the season. The Lady Wildcats had to wait a little longer to win their fifth as they performed at the end.
“We didn’t get to watch anybody because they kept us in a classroom during warm-ups,” Shedd explained. “We had no idea how anybody had done.”
As Woodland awaited its turn, Shedd told her team to eliminate the possibility of having to look back and wonder what it could have done better.
“‘The hard work’s over; know that you’ve worked hard all season for this,’” she said of her message. “‘Leave it all on the floor.’”
Woodland was able to do just that as its showmanship prompted judges to award it with the competition’s highest score.
“It’s definitely the hardest routine that Woodland has ever attempted,” said Shedd, noting that a new scoring system caused the Lady Wildcats to up the ante. “Georgia High School [Association] has a new rubric for scoring this year and the stunts on the rubric are more difficult than you’ve ever had to do before.”
Even with an increase in difficulty, Woodland would not be denied and will continue its superb season.
“They’ve done extremely well this year. They’ve had a lot of injuries [and have] come through a lot of injuries, but [they are a] tough bunch of girls,” Shedd said. “We have really good senior leadership this year.”
At state, the Lady Wildcats will be faced with top-notch contenders that include Northgate; Johns Creek, the second-ranked team all year; Northside-Columbus and Starr’s Mill.
“[Class] AAAA’s just packed,” Shedd acknowledged. The Woodland coach believes, however, that her team — which had to beat Johns Creek in order to win region — is amongst the top contenders, too.
“They have the potential to win state. They have a lot of heart and they can dig deep when they need do,” Shedd said of the Lady Wildcats, whom she led to state titles from 2004-06 as well as a co-ed state title in 2008. “We’re just gonna concentrate on what we do and not worry about the other teams … and see how we come out.”