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It has been a long three years for the Grant County High School cheerleading squad when it comes to earning a berth to the Kentucky Association of Pep Organization Sponsors (KAPOS) state competition, but nothing could compare with the two weeks leading up to the event.
"We lost two girls off the team and another to an injury. We had been through a lot in the last two weeks. The girls have so much fight and in the past, a weaker squad would have quit," coach Leigh Simpson said.
Through it all, the Lady Braves were able to pull together and both the varsity and junior squads finsihed 11th at the state competition, which was held Feb. 16 at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green. It was the second time since 2005 that the team has advanced to the state competition. Twice the Lady Braves have finished sixth and they finished ninth one other time.
Senior Natasha Kincaid was pleased with how her teammates did.
"It was nice, especially after all we had been through. It was fun, and I think everything that we encountered over the last two weeks made us closer. It was a great experience to go to state my senior year," said Kincaid.
Fellow classmates Caitlyn LeMaster and Brittany Plummer were also proud of how the Lady Braves did.
"It is pretty amazing. I have never been to state before, and it was a great experience. We didn't finish last," LeMaster said.
For Plummer, the amount of hard work that her teammates put in before the event made her proud.
"I was amazed with how we did. It was a good feeling to go to state," Plummer said.
Heading into the competition, Simpson set a goal of finishing in the top five at the state meet, and while that was not accomplished, she could not dispute the effort that her team put forth in the face of adversity.
"All things considered, the squads did good. We dropped one stunt, and at the state competition, you cannot do that. I told the girls if they were proud, that is all that matters," Simpson said.
Members of the varsity squad are: Natasha Kincaid, Brandy Begley, LaKeshia Crabtree, Selena Klaphake, Danielle McMahan, Karla Noel, Chelsey Popp, Olivia Shawmeker, Jessica Taylor, Brittany Butler, Paige Mudman, Emily Wright, Chelsea Young, Emily Riley and Briana Shandel. Coaches are Leigh Simpson, Melissa Ryan and Deanna Wynn.
Members of the junior varsity squad are: Caitlyn LeMaster, Brittany Plummer, Melissa McLeod, Miranda Cleveland, Sarah Walls, Chelsea Zuhars, Ashley Long, Becca Saylor, Katie Blackburn, Karri Edmondson, Alixx Fabela, Brandee Terrell, Andrea Whalen, Amanda Akins, Erin Moore and Rashell Griffin. Coaches are Melissa Ryan and Amy Franks.