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Veterans Warhawks cheerleader Taylor Liszewski is excelling on the playing fields and in the classroom as a senior at the high school in Houston County.

Taylor has been cheering since she was in middle school and says if you think competition cheerleading is not a sport, you are sadly mistaken.

"It takes athletic ability to lift girls up in the air. You have to train cardio, you have to train your muscles. You have to be strong enough to make it through a 2-and-a-half-minute routine performing a pyramid, a partner stunt, a one-man stunt, a dance, a cheer, a stunt and tumble," says Taylor.

Taylor's position is a base, which is a pivotal part of the cheerleading team.

"That means the flyer has to trust me and I have to put my life in front of hers. I have to hold her in the air and fight against anything to keep her up there," she says.

Coach Maryann Fincher says, "She doesn't get flustered. She doesn't get upset when things go bad. She always was steady, lifting the girls back up, and she did an amazing job."

Taylor has helped lead the Veteran Warhawks to back-to-back state championships, but she credits the entire team for their success. She also says hitting the books helps them focus as well.

"If we don't have good grades, we can't be on the team anyway, so that's an important aspect. The hardest thing is balance, because cheerleading takes a lot of your time and dedication. So if you want to be good at it all, you have to get your schedule right and dedicate yourself a lot."

Taylor's coaches are also grateful for her leadership and attention to detail.

"I think Taylor gives 100 percent in everything she does, never halfway. She's taking AP classes and shows up at practice every day. I'm extremely proud of her and she's a great role model for the girls," says Coach Susan Novak.

Taylor and her teammates are the first team state champions at Veterans High since the school opened 4 years ago.

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