Beaufort High School cheerleading coach Corrie Zimmerman knows the school's move from Class 4-A down to 3-A played a role in the Eagles' Lower State championship this year.
"Moving to 3-A instead of 4-A put us in a better position," Zimmerman said. "In 4-A, the larger schools have bigger arenas, along with better access to cheer gyms and things like tumbling lessons. But the move put us in an area more comparable with the size school we are."
The result of the move, along with Eagles' hard work, was Beaufort High's first Lower State title since 2001. Beaufort High, along with county rivals Battery Creek and Bluffton, will compete Saturday in the S.C. High School League Competitive Cheer Finals at Bon Secours Arena in Greenville.
Zimmerman, who says the Eagles are a powerhouse, "as far as stunting goes," said Beaufort High has seen many of the teams it will see again in the final.
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"We've scored higher than some," she said, "but it all comes down to executing on the day of."
Battery Creek, under the direction of coach Lydia Williams, is in its first year of competition. In the regular season, the Dolphins had two wins and two second-place finishes in four tournaments.
"We kind of just started this year hoping to get our feet wet," Williams said. "We have 15 girls who have no competition experience."
But after such a strong showing by the Dolphins, they decided to compete at the state qualifier and earned the 13th and final spot. Now, Williams and company would like to pick up one more spot.
"We just want to beat one team, and we'll be happy," Williams said. "We never even anticipated getting to state."
Beth Herring's situation is a little different than those of Zimmerman and Williams. Her Bluffton Bobcats have made the Class 4-A finals five years running. But as one of the smallest schools in 4-A, Herring says Bluffton is facing an uphill battle.
The Bobcats, whose strength is their tumbling, according to Herring, are the last area team to compete.
SCHSL State Competitive Cheer Finals
Saturday, Bon Secours Arena, Greenville
Parade of teams, 10:15 a.m.
Battery Creek, 11:07 a.m.
Parade of teams, 1:30 p.m.
Beaufort High, 3:53 p.m.
Parade of teams, 4:45 p.m.
Bluffton, 5:37 p.m.