No matter what classification Chapin competes in, it seems to lead to one place: a state title.
The Eagles claimed the Class 4A competitive cheerleading state championship with a score of 352 – 20 points higher than second-place St. James – at Colonial Life Arena on Saturday.
“This one came from the kids. It was all their doing,” Chapin coach Vicki Williams said. “We worked them hard, but they had the desire and work ethic to make this happen.”
Williams credited her team’s motto ‘Heart of a Champion’ in helping drive her team toward the title.
“The beginning of the season was rough,” Williams said. “We lost some really good seniors that had won six state championships, and I thought there was no way we were going to pull this off. We lacked the physical strength.”
Williams told her team there was only one way this team was going to win a state championship, from the heart.
“They were so determined that they were going to win, the work ethic went from not much, to really good.”
Chapin becomes the first team to win a state championship in three classifications. Williams has led the Eagles to previous state titles in 2A and 3A.
“Coach always tells us to go out and perform for the girls that came before us,” Chapin senior captain Blaine Daily said. “We have that legacy that is before us.”
Like all teams, the emotions flowed from the Chapin team as they hoisted the trophy and clutched their gold medals.
“When we’re out on the mat, we have to stay focused and concentrate on every move,” senior captain Katelyn Nirallo said. “To win the state title is just amazing. The emotions can’t describe it.”
In Class 5A, Dutch Fork was able to clear the final hurdle and capture the state championship. After a runner-up finish a year ago, the Silver Foxes were determined to take their place at the top.
“I’m so proud of our girls, they have worked so hard,” Dutch Fork coach Katie Nunnery said. “It’s been a crazy year, with injuries, but this is a great way to finish. There’s definitely some redemption here.”
Dutch Fork finished one point behind Lexington at the qualifier, but the Silver Foxes earned a state championship score of 364, three points better than the Wildcats. River Bluff finished third with 345.
“I think the thing that separated us today was our energy,” Nunnery said. “Both teams put on great routines.”
In Class 3A, Brookland-Cayce took home the second-place trophy after finishing with a score of 293. Palmetto won the state championship with 304.
“We’ve had an amazing season, and our girls nailed the routine today,” BC coach Alicia Dickerson said. “This is a performing team, and I can also count on them to go out and give everything they’ve got.”
The second-place finish is the best for the Bearcats since a runner-up finish in 1997.