COVINGTON - The Eastside competition cheerleading squad will have to jump, tumble and cheer like never before if it hopes to bring home the Class AAA cheerleading title.
After beating perennial powerhouse Oconee County in the Region 8-AAA competition, the Lady Eagles have now set their sights higher as they try for a state title Saturday at the Columbus Civic Center.
"We came into a very tough cheerleading region. Oconee has been region champs since they started in this region," Eastside coach Lin Lindsey said. "They are very strong - they have 11 seniors. It's a huge step in the right direction (for the program).
"One of our goals since I got here is to build tradition. I ask each group what type of legacy do they want to leave, what kind of tradition do they want to start? They then have a chance to really work on building that up."
Eastside's win is huge considering that Oconee County finished third in the state last year.
The real trick to getting high scores is to make the routine flow into a continuous, flawless performance.
"It has to flow from one element to the next. They have to be very perfect in their execution so they don't run into each other, hit each other, knock each other down. That kind of thing," Lindsey said. "To win state, they have to execute all of their stunts, all of their tumbling. Every single detail has to be perfect. We can't afford any deductions and you really have to focus on every detail because that's what makes you stand out."
The Eastside team consist of six seniors, one junior, four sophomores and five freshmen.
Making up the squad are Ashlyn Aiken, Nan Bowden, Kelsey Butler, Holly Croom, Melissa Dingler, Brittany Gaynes, Allie Gibbs, Tory Holland, Emerald Jemison, Savannah LeClair, Hannah Reagan, DeMia Rogers, Lauren Stone, Marissa Thompson, Marissa Vinson and Kim Waters.
When Eastside beat Oconee County for the region championship, Lindsey said the routine was pretty close to being totally perfect.
"I asked them to go out there and do their best and execute to the best of their ability, and they did that for the most part," she said. "For this group of girls, if they execute like they should, there's no telling how well they will do (at state)."
Manny Fils can be reached at email@example.com.