Veterans wins state cheerleading championship second year in a row

Sun News correspondentNovember 18, 2013 

Veterans High School cheerleaders became repeat state champions Saturday when they won the AAAA competition Saturday in Columbus.

SPECIAL TO THE SUN NEWS

Veterans High School won the 2013 AAAA state cheerleading championship at the GHSA state competition held in Columbus Saturday.

It was two in a row for the Warhawks, who also won the 2012 state championship.

Veterans, which is in its fourth year of existence, has established itself as one of the dominant cheer programs in the state.

Mollie Lauritsen, one of the Veterans team captains, said the squad entered the season knowing it had the unique opportunity to start a school tradition.

“The seniors, we were the first freshman class to go all the way through,” said Lauritsen. “We took it as our job to start a tradition of winning that will last through the school’s history.”

Head coach Maryann Fincher said that hard work paid off for the Veterans team.

“They just went out there and did their best,” Fincher said.

Members of the 2013 AAAA state championship cheer team include Lauritsen, Taylor Liszewski, Shannon Lowry, Makayla Pierce, Cortney Spraggins, Kaley Mixon, Andi Horton, Breann Bowden, Rachel Allen, Kiera Salone, Jaeda Boyd, Kaitlyn Fowler, Ashley Theus, Haylee Duck, Jahnae Jones, Britteny Dostie, Raven Bissette, Natalie King, Baylor Zuniga and Hannah Tapp.

Community coach Susan Nowak has been working with Veterans for the past two years. She said the season started off well, but then injuries plagued the Warhawks.

“We had to change our routine six or seven times to adapt to changing people in and out,” Nowak said. “Strengths and talents are different, and it is hard to swap one person out, but they kept fighting through.”

Nowak explained that along with cheer basics, judges at the state competition look for sharpness and a high energy level.

Houston County High School, last year’s AAAAA state champion, finished behind McIntosh High School for second place honors at the 2013 state competition.

Coach Jessica Brown said it is a combination of things that allowed her team to place at state. “The girls just have a drive within themselves,” said Brown. “Also everybody -- the athletic department, the school -- is behind them, and that pushes them to continue to be successful.”

With Houston County High’s loss in the state football playoffs Friday night, cheer season for the school, which has one team that cheers competitively and at games, comes to a close. But while the official season is over, the work is not. Brown said members of her team take private gymnastics lessons and have individual workouts.

The Houston County school system was well represented at the state finals. Along with Veterans High’s state win and Houston County High’s second-place finish, Warner Robins High School was a region finalist and advanced to the first day of state competition. Perry High School, competing as a co-ed team, also went to the first day of state competition.

Veterans High has only five seniors graduating, so expectations that the school will repeat its success a third time are high.

“They will have to work for it, but they have so much talent,” said Nowak. “They have the skill and the talent and the heart.”

Contact Alline Kent at 478-396-2467.

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