COLUMBUS — Krista Britt has been around competitive cheerleading for quite some time in northeast Georgia.
And the North Hall -- and Brenau University -- coach believes the sport is as strong as it has ever been in the area -- and will only get stronger.
"It's a huge sport around here now," said Britt, who's led North Hall since 2001. "I recruit a lot of girls for my Brenau team right here."
Leading one of 16 northeast Georgia-based squads qualified for state finals, the Lady Trojans coach hopes her squad will show just how strong area is when competition begins this weekend in Columbus.
"We've set a goal to finish top six, and I think we're capable of doing that," said Britt, whose team has reached the state finals every year of her coaching stint outside of 2015.
Britt's Lady Trojans enter state as the Region 7-AAA champion, earning a bye into the finals. But they are not alone in this feat.
The Flowery Branch and Chestatee teams also won their respective regions, while plenty more squads qualified for sectionals, which get underway on Friday at the Columbus Civic Center. Set to compete on Friday are Buford, Dawson County, East Hall, East Jackson, Gainesville, Habersham Central, Jackson County, Jefferson, Johnson, North Forsyth, Stephens County and White County. The top eight teams in each sectional advance to Saturday's finals, joining the eight region winners with a bye into the finals. Meanwhile, Apalachee, Winder-Barrow and Commerce will compete in the co-ed championships.
"It's gotten very cometitive in our area, and I think it's going to continue to grow," Britt said, who added that teams are made up of a mix of seasoned competitive cheerleaders from club teams, as well as gymnasts.
Certainly the Lady Trojans' abilities grew through this season, as they won their four regular season meets and then the 7-AAA crown. Yet they know they face a tall task at state, especially against teams like Pierce County, which has won two state titles in the last four years.
"It's been a great season so far, and the girls have worked really hard," Britt said. "We get great support from our school and administration, and it's so much fun to be a part of."
There's still plenty of hard work remaining, however -- one more big weekend's worth.