Jackets Lower State champs

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By Robert Howey

Buford High School's cheer competition season has gone from rebuilding to rewarding.

"These girls just keep surprising me," said BHS cheer coach Julie Thompson.

Thompson, with the loss of 11 seniors from last season's Jackets team which finished sixth in the Class A-AA state championship competition, billed the 2007 campaign as a "rebuilding season."

"We lost a lot of experience with 11 seniors and then we only had two seniors to return to this team," Thompson said. "This year, these girls have been motivated by the fact that they want to continue the outstanding cheer tradition which has been established by our previous squads' success.

The 2007 BHS cheer squad has done that and more.

The Jackets are headed for the state competition in Greenville on Saturday after capturing the Class A-AA Lower State championship at Sumter High School. The state meet is at 11 a.m. at the Bi-Lo Center in Greenville.

Buford's 22-member team tallied 223 points to capture the Lowcountry championship, the first in school history. Chesterfield was second with 214 points. Waccamaw followed with 207 and Lewisville had 197 points.

"The girls have a lot of heart and they want to live up to what has been accomplished in the past here," Thompson said.

Buford High junior co-captain Katelyn Wrobel said the Jackets began peaking at the right time.

"Our routine really started coming together at the end of last week," Wrobel said. "We had a solid practice Thursday and by hitting our routine without any drops, it gave us confidence heading into the Lower State competition."

Thompson said the Jackets used their momentum as a mat boost.

"We had a couple of bobbles, but no drops in the Lower State competition," Thompson said. "Those bobbles were minor. When you have 2:30 out there, you just keep on going and giving it your best."

Buford has been solid for the season.

The Jackets captured the Region VIII-AA cheer title for the second straight season.

BHS, building momentum for a strong finish, was second at the Bearcat Invitational at Rock Hill High School and the runner-up at the Lake Murray Classic at Dutch Fork High School. The Jackets squad also finished sixth at the Debbie Rogers Classic at the Colonial Center.

"We were excited about winning the region title for the second straight year, but we had a lot of work ahead of us, if we wanted to reach the state championship," Thompson said. "We had some drops in the region competition and we wanted a clean routine before we went to the state."

Buford will shoot for its first-ever top-five finish at the state meet.

"That's been our goal since we started the season," Thompson said. "That's what we're shooting for, but these girls have a way of surprising me. A top five would be nice, but we will take a little more.

"I look at the Upper State, which is always strong, and their top finisher was Crescent with a 239, and I feel we can be in that range," she said.

The parade of teams is set for 10:40 a.m. in the Bi-Lo Center, with the Jackets to compete at 12:10 p.m.

The BHS squad: captains Brittany Christian, Tori Porter, co-captains Paige Sistare, Katelyn Wrobel, Starr Blankenship, Jennifer Brasington, Alex Faile, Danielle Flynn, Brittany Hill, Randi Hollis, Jessica Keye, Brittany Mccants, Sara Moseley, Briana Parker, Taylor Pressley, Ashley Snipes, Cierra Stinson, Michelle Stinson, Jessica Turner, Laura Watterson, April Watts, Whitney Williams.