Lambert, South Forsyth cheerleading teams entering GHSA cheerleading championships as friends, rivals

By Seth Ellerbee –

Two of the best cheerleading programs in the state entered the GHSA Cheerleading State Championships in historic fashion while nursing a friendly rivalry off the mat.

Lambert and South Forsyth – two schools separated by a five-mile ride down Old Atlanta Road – know each other well. The girls spend time together out of competition cheerleading. They’ve grown up together. They respect each other.

They are friends.

And to close the regular season, the programs accomplished a feat at the Region 6-7A competition which may never happen again. In competition cheerleading, a perfect score is 108 points and to achieve it is rare. It’s like having a hole in one in golf or pitching a perfect game in baseball.

It’s not an everyday occurrence.

But competing in the same venue, on the same day, within minutes of each other, both Lambert and South Forsyth attained 108 points through the two minute and 30 second routine.


“In all my years, I have never even heard of that,” said Penny Mitchell, the GHSA Cheerleading coordinator. “To get a perfect score is crazy. And then for two teams to get it, it’s amazing. That means you hit every degree of difficulty at the highest you can and then you execute it in flawless fashion.”

It isn’t a shock that the teams are performing well.

Since 2012 – aside from Peachtree Ridge’s state championship victory in 2014 – either Lambert or South Forsyth have won the state’s highest class. Lambert – which has seven state championships – won in 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019 and last season. South Forsyth – which has nine titles – won in 2017, 2020 and 2021 on top of victories in 1996-1999, 2001 and 2002.

The success of each program begins with the coaching and for Lambert head coach Alexa Wagner, she’s seen first-hand success as a member of the Longhorns cheerleading team where she won state championships her freshman, sophomore and senior (2015) seasons.

She remembers some perfect scores, maybe just one, but never two in the same place.

“The first time I heard of a perfect score was when Lambert did it at state one year,” said Wagner. “It’s definitely not something that happens every year. It’s really exciting because these are two great programs. Lambert and South are in the top two spots every year and so it’s really cool to see it happen. It’s just hard to compare it to other sports because it is just so different. The judges are looking at so many things in such a short amount of time.”

Lambert is led by a core group of seniors who have maintained the team’s greatness their entire high school cheerleading careers. Sophie Santander, Sade Ezekiel, Kylie White, Kate Headrick, Julia Szlek, Dyland Dannelly and Ava Nies.

“Our seniors, their role is to lead and set an example,” Wagner said. “A lot of the girls have been through the program all four years and whether that’s varsity for four years or junior varsity then varsity, every one of our seniors have been with us for years. So they are the ones who set the example and encourage the other girls and be our leaders.”

South Forsyth head coach Stacey Schmuhl has been coaching cheerleading for 20 seasons and the finish at the region competition will be remembered. You can try to achieve greatness with a flawless routine every time you take to the stage, but it’s really just a pipe dream.

There are so many things to overcome.

“Well, we always try for a perfect score,” Schmuhl said. “It’s really something that’s kind of just out there. I guess I would compare it to a hole in one, maybe. You shoot for it, but in reality you’re just trying to get as close as you can. In cheerleading, the judges are always looking to take points off, instead of giving points.”

Lambert might have won the tiebreaker, but that was just a formality, it’s the sitting champion.

“It was just shocking to find out that we scored a perfect score,” Schmuhl said. “And then they did, and we went to a tie break. To do it with your crosstown rival is even crazier.”

Schmuhl is new to the South Forsyth program and remembers watching the back-and-forth greatness from Lambert and South Forsyth for years, from afar. Now, with first-hand experience, the rivalry takes on a new meaning.

“I came over last year as an assistant and took over this season,” she said. “I was previously a head coach at Buford for three years and was at Ola for 13 seasons. To be in it now, it is quite a different level of intensity. I do think we push each other to prove ourselves on the tiniest of details so it’s something I’ve never experienced as a coach before and it’s really exciting. Being outside of it, I looked on in awe.”

South Forsyth is led by a group of seniors who have each competed for four years for the War Eagles. Sara Boleware, Ava Bouldin, Caroline Clark, Sophia Dait, Molly Muraski, Julia Ricci and Ellie Woodison.

The two programs have competed together this year in several events and on paper, you might think the two groups of young ladies might harbor resentment toward their high-class opposition.

That could not be further from the truth.

“We love South,” Wagner said. “I really mean that. We have a great relationship with them. We did team bonding with them this year because the girls are friends and we want to support their friendships and we just love them.”

Earlier this season, the two teams gathered after practice to enjoy each other’s company, bond and try their hand at another kind of performance. This time, for fun.

“This year we got together after practice and did line dancing,” Schmuhl explained. “That’s what we did this year, and they’ll get together and spend time outside of school together. They compete together on all-star teams, they go out together. They’ve cheered together when they were younger in rec-leagues together. Some of the girls have known each other since they were four and five years old.”

The teams will take to the stage at the Macon Centreplex Saturday for the GHSA State Cheerleading Championships. Follow the link to see the GHSA program or watch the competition via the NFHS Network where all sessions will stream live.

Tags: , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply