This year’s Catawba Ridge cheer squad has a good chance at winning the school’s first team state championship. Supplied photo

All three local high school competitive cheer teams are heading to the state finals this Saturday in Columbia.

Catawba Ridge, Nation Ford and Fort Mill cheer teams will each be preforming at the Colonial Life Arena during their respective state finals. Catawba Ridge will be performing in the 4A state finals, while Nation Ford and Fort Mill will hit the floor in the 5A state finals.

The Copperheads are coming off a win in the 4A state qualifier beating out 25 other teams. Catawba Ridge scored 304 points, their highest score of the season, beating Easley, who had 298 points in second place.

Catawba Ridge could be peaking at the right time, as they just posted their highest score in school history. Copperheads head coach Kristen Rhodes should know. She has been there for every competition since the school opened.

“They did an amazing job,” Rhodes said.  “It is a combination of what we started creating year one. We have really tried to create something special.”

Rhodes said a lot of the team is led by their seven seniors on the team, four of them having been there since the school opened. Catawba Ridge is scheduled to perform at 5:01 p.m. Saturday.

In the 5A competition, Fort Mill finished fifth in the state qualifier with 309 points and Nation Ford finished 12th with 281. River Bluff and Lexington tied for the win with 343.5 points each.

Jennifer Raine is in her eighth year as Fort Mill head coach and said she is proud of having her squad qualify.

“We are really excited,” she said. “We are hoping to stay in the top five. I feel really good this has been a really good year.”

For Nation Ford, this year has been a resurgence in their cheer program under head coach Meagan Bivins, who is in her fourth year at the head of the program.

COVID has played a negative impact the past couple years, but this year without COVID being an issue, the Falcons are soaring again.

Being in the highest classification in 5A, both Fort Mill and Nation Ford have the hardest division to compete in with the likes of teams like River Bluff, Lexington and Chapin.

“It is a tough division,” Bivins said. “Nation Ford is very honored to be one of the top 16 in the state to advance to the state finals. (The) 5A (class) is a highly competitive division that we all fight very hard to make it this far. I wish for my athletes to enjoy every minute of this opportunity, to settle in the work they have put in, knowledge to know they can and did make it and enjoy the love and respect they have for the sport. But at the end of it all, you have to play the game to know how it ends.”

Fort Mill is scheduled to perform at 7:47 p.m. and Nation Ford right afterwards at 7:54 p.m.

Mac Banks:, @fortprep

The Fort Mill cheer team will be competing in the 5A state championship this weekend in Columbia. Supplied photo
Nation Ford returns to the 5A state cheer competition this year and will be competing for a title Saturday. Supplied photo