For some time now, Bearville has been the epicenter of cheerleading greatness in South Georgia. But Pierce County High School is now unquestionably positioned among the elite programs in the state after claiming the program’s third state title in four years. PCHS won the Class AAA crown November 14 at the Columbus Civic Center to cap an undefeated season.
“What a roller coaster ride it has been this season,” PCHS head coach Amy Nimmer says. “We started the season off with six different injuries: two concussions, two back injuries, an ankle injury, and one actual snake bite! The team was very discouraged during this time because it was as if the hope of regaining the state title was gone. However, we persevered through it all.”
PCHS has won three of the four competitive cheerleading titles awarded in Class AAA since the GHSA moved to a five-class system. Among all schools in Georgia, only Lambert and Mt. Paran have won as many titles during that same time frame. The latest state crown for PCHS makes nine overall GHSA titles for PCHS, which also boasts titles in boys golf (3), girls golf (2), and one-act play (1).
“The top 16 girls that were chosen at tryouts were not the ones to compete together for the first two competitions,” Coach Nimmer says. “The third competition was when everything started to come together for our team. That’s when we had the starting 16 back on the floor and were able to finally gain some consistency. The hope of winning a state title had finally come back into the picture.”
PCHS began its run of excellence with top-three finishes in 2010-11 before winning back-to-back state crowns in 2012 and 2013. Last season, Calhoun bested Pierce by a single point for top honors. That loss provided plenty of incentive to work hard on the mats this past season, says Nimmer.
“We took each competition seriously and started focusing more on the little things,” she says. “We knew that in order to win a state title, we had to be different. We could not depend on a one-point difference to win. In our eyes, it was the little things that we didn’t focus on.”
The Bears claimed their third straight Region 1-AAA title this past fall and then shifted the collective focus on the state meet. As a region champion, PCHS earned a bye in Friday competition at Columbus. Nonetheless, the squad left on Thursday in order to practice the following day at the state championship venue.
“That was not a good practice for us,” Coach Nimmer says. “There was tension, and emotionally they were drained. We called it a night and headed out for sectionals the next morning to begin focusing in on some of our competition and to show the freshmen how state would be run. It was different this year in that there was a sense of calmness in the freshmen. Once sectionals were over, we headed back for our last practice before state finals. This time, it was a good one, but not perfect.”
Coach Nimmer says the team exhibited impeccable focus throughout championship Saturday, from warm-ups through the title-clinching performance. She says her team exhibited off-the-charts enthusiasm during the two-and-a-half minute routine.
Next came the wait. Cedartown, an always formidable contender, turned in a solid performance. Then it was time to announce the top six. PCHS was the first team called to the floor, followed by Southeast Bulloch, Central Carrollton, Calhoun, Dawson, and Cedartown. Moments later, the Bears were announced as the 2015 state champs.
“All of our emotions finally came to a head and we were beyond excited,” Coach Nimmer says. “The goal we set at the beginning of the season had actually become a reality. We got the score sheets, and we had not won by one point, but by 20 points.”
Team members include Parker Bennett, Laycee Bowen, Torin Bryant, McKayla Carter, Emmaline Dixon, Kate Davis, KellyAnn Howard, Zoie Johnson, Morgan Lee, Anna Clarie Long, Allie Caroline Long, Brittany Mayhew, Isabelle McQuaig, Alyssa Nolan, Alexis Nolan, Jincy Strickland, Amber Taft, Chelsea Thrift, Abigail Walker, Caroline Williams, and Katie Wallace.
The squad’s lone senior, captain Morgan Lee, will leave PCHS as its most decorated Bear with three state titles and three region titles, as well as a runner-up finish in each of those categories. Lee and her teammates also experienced a run of success at Pierce County Middle School. This season saw Coach Dde Jordan and the PCMS cheer squad bring home a seventh-straight conference championship, the highest honor for which that team can compete.
Nimmer thanked a number of supporters, including principal Dara Bennett, the cheer parents, and local media partners, including The Blackshear Times.
“What a great reward for all of the hard work and dedication these girls put into cheer this season,” Nimmer says.
Pierce County High School
Story by John DuPont
Photos by Jennifer Carter Johnson
PCHS Cheerleaders Win Third State Crown