The Mary Persons competition cheerleading team, coached by Kyle Ward (far right), captured its third straight Region 2-AAAA championship, defeating region rivals Perry and West Laurens at Houston County last Saturday. The Cheer Dogs will compete at the AAAA state meet in Columbus at 9 a.m. on Saturday. See Page 3B for more coverage. (Photo/Mary Persons Twitter)


The Mary Persons competition cheerleading squad made it a threepeat on Saturday at Houston County, winning its third consecutive Region 2-AAAA championship.

By finishing with a winning score of 90.5, their highest score of the 2019 season, the Cheer Dogs became the first MP cheerleading squad in program history to win three straight region titles.

“It was one of our best performances,” said MP head coach Kyle Ward. “It was probably the most fun performance the girls will have all year.”

Ward said the small Houston County gymnasium and electric fan response made for a memorable occasion. Among the MP supporters were school superintendent Dr. Mike Hickman, principal Dr. Jim Finch, athletic director Robert Lindsey and football coach Brian Nelson.

Ward said the enthusiastic support brought out the best in his squad, adding: “Athletes perform much better results when there’s a reason to.”

West Laurens took second place with 86 points while Perry came in third place with 82 points. Ward said both the Lady Raiders and Lady Panthers had major miscues that his team didn’t make, and MP ultimately came out on top by beating its opponents in stunt group and pyramid scoring.

He said of his opponents: “I felt bad for them. I could tell they were disappointed.”

Ward said he ordered region championship t-shirts in advance of Saturday’s region title meet. He said he was nervous about whether they would ever be used, but said as a motivational tactic he put one on during practice last Friday to inspire his team to pull out a third straight win.

“We had to show up and do our job,” Ward said. “And that’s what we did. We couldn’t make mistakes.”

MP’s 2019 championship team members include: seniors Jaida Harvey and Kayleigh Hill and underclassmen Campbell Brown, Molly Cobb, Kylee Everidge, Abigayle Fox, Kaylee Gordon, Piper Haworth, Morgan Hill, Riley Hill, Abney Langer, Sydney Lewis, Madalynne Scott, Calliway Selman, Ridley White and Mia Winget.

MP will now head to the AAAA state meet in Columbus with hopes of winning the program’s first-ever state championship. The Cheer Dogs placed fifth at state in 2017 before improving to a program-best third place finish in 2018.

MP will compete at 9 a.m. on Saturday at the Columbus Civic Center. By virtue of its region title, MP is automatically exempt into the finals and will not have to compete in the sectional competition on Friday. The top nine finishers at the 23-team sectionals will join the seven region champions in the 16-team AAAA finals on Saturday. The Cheer Dogs will be the fifth of the 16 AAAA squads to take the mat in Saturday’s finals.

Ward said he’s hoping the Cheer Dogs will record their third straight Top-6 finish at state, which would allow MP to get called to the mat for special recognition. He said defending champion Cartersville, Cedartown, Central Carroll and Denmark, which finished runner-up in 2018, are expected to be the top contenders at state.

Meanwhile, the Mary Persons JV competition cheerleading squad, coached by Rachael Scott, finished either first or second at all four of its competitions in 2019. The JV Cheer Dogs took first place in their final meet on Oct. 5 at McIntosh after finishing second in each of their first three meets (Sept. 7 at Dacula, Sept. 14 at Veterans and Sept. 28 at Houston County).