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Church Hill Middle cheerleaders earn state championship, invite to nationals

Jeff Bobo • Jan 3, 2020 at 6:30 PM

CHURCH HILL — The Church Hill Middle School cheerleading squad recently won the East Sectional in the TMSAA state championship at Middle Tennessee State University in only its second attempt at the title.

The Panthers cheerleaders defeated Surgoinsville Middle in the finals at MTSU in Murfreesboro on Dec. 14 to earn a bid to compete at the nationals in February.

Coach Penny Gibson told the Times News that the cheerleaders had worked for the competition since May.

“They held their camp at Power Tumble in Surgoinsville, where they learned their routine,” Gibson said. “They spent countless afternoons that turned into evenings at Power Tumble in Surgoinsville, where they learned, practiced, and perfected a routine with the aid of Power Tumble coaches Ronette Carter, Alexis Berry, and Ashley Carter.”

Last month’s meet marked only the second year that Church Hill Middle participated in the state championship.

The team was relatively new, Gibson noted, with only five returning members from last year.

Of those five, only two had been members throughout their middle school career: Emma Clark and Hannah Kramer.

At its first appearance at the Tennessee Middle School Athletic Association Cheer Competition last year, the Church Hill team placed second, behind the Greeneville Middle team by just 8 tenths of a point.

Gibson said a lot of hard work, dedication, and encouragement from coaches, parents, and community led up to the team’s second attempt at the TMSAA cheer competition.

On Dec. 14 the team brought home the gold, defeating the Surgoinsville Middle cheer team by 8.2 points.

“I told (the girls) that we were going to this competition to have fun and do our best,” Gibson said. “When they called our team as first place, I was so shocked I cried because I knew these girls deserved it with all the hard work they had put in. They were screaming, jumping up and down, and smiling ear-to-ear. That was a proud moment for me. Being a coach takes a lot of time, but seeing their goal accomplished is all worth it. I love these girls.”

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