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Finishing on a high note
Eastside cheerleaders win 8-AAA, head to state
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Eastside has had a stellar start to the athletic season so far in 2008. It’s softball team finished third in the state while winning the Region 8-AAA crown. The football team is on the verge of the first region title in school history and the Lady Eagles’ volleyball squad made it to sectionals. You can add the competition cheerleading squad as the latest Eagle team to make some noise at the state level.

Eastside’s cheerleading team, led by Lin Lindsay, captured the Region 8-AAA title on Saturday and will compete in the state competition Saturday at Columbus.

By winning the region competition, Eastside bypasses the sectional competition and is one of 16 teams in the running for the 3-A championship.

The girls will have to put together their two-and-a-half minute routine better than they have all year as Lindsay admits the competition will be stiff. She hopes the difficulty of their routine will be high enough to give them an opportunity to place well. After that, it’s all about execution.

"In all of the stunt and tumbling categories we have tried to put ourselves in the highest degree of difficulty and of course the execution could very depending on us," she said. "You have one routine for two-and-a-half minutes so you get one shot at it."

The squad went to camp at the 16-time Universal Cheerleaders Association National College Cheerleading Championship, University of Kentucky, and has been performing a routine they learned from Wildcat coach Jomo Thompson. Several of the aspects in the routine included difficult tumbling moves and sky-high basket tosses.

"Our strength this year has been our tumbling," Lindsay said. "We have an outstanding group of tumblers. We have a very high level of tumbling for 3-A and that has what everyone has noticed."

But Lindsay is confident if her girls are on their game, they will fare well against the competition. Regardless of where they place, she is pleased with the result thus far.

Several of the girls have been here before. Eastside made it to state last year and placed 11th. This year, Lindsay believes the six seniors and eight returning girls overall give her team a good shot at improving on those results. Ashlyn Aiken and captains Brittany Gaynes, Nan Bowden and DeMia Rogers lead the seasoned squad into competition and Lindsay is confident their leadership will keep the girls on track throughout the day.

"Our seniors have been the backbone of our team this year," she said. "This is an amazing group of seniors as far as leadership goes. They’ve done exactly what I’ve asked of them and they provide the leadership. If some of the girls are coming in early to work on something, they’ll come in with them even if they don’t have to work on the same thing. It’s just and outstanding group and they have that heart and desire and want to do well. They want to get over that hump of getting 11th."

While Eastside did well in the region competition, Lindsay said she doesn’t know what to expect Saturday. The teams will be ready and she knows her girls will have to be at their best if they are to better last year’s results.

"It’s hard to say because you don’t see every team around the state in your division and you hear all these great things about other teams so you don’t really have an idea of what to expect," Lindsay said. "Basically, I just told the girls, if they go out there and do their very best, that is all we can ask for. That’s what we did last Saturday, so it’s hard to say."

Win or place 16th, Lindsay said this year has been the best of her 14-year career as a coach. She knows her team enjoys what it does and the girls work well together. That in itself is enough to give her the satisfaction that 2008 has been a success regardless of how Saturday turns out.

"This group is focused, very determined and very dedicated," she said. "They work extremely hard in practice and they work well together. This has been the easiest group of girls I’ve ever coached. It’s made it an enjoyable year and makes you feel good when they do well."