Tift County Dynasty: Gymnastics Aims at 3rd Title

"Over half of the team is seniors, it would be a great way to just top everything off," Barbour said. / Andrew Schnitker

A dynasty is defined as a rule or success in a sequence. It's also defined as consecutive rulers from the same family.

Whatever way you want to define it, Tift County gymnastics is a family and they also have a dynasty.

For three years, Tift County High School has been the best in gymnastics. Through perfected flips and pinpointed landings, the Lady Blue Devils are going for a third straight state title, but they don't act like it.

"I like to call it 'southern hospitality'. We cheer on all the other teams, talk to the other teams and they cheer us on," senior Tatum Lamb said.

Gracious in victory and courteous in defeat. Tift County doesn't feel the latter often. The seven seniors, led by all-around gymnasts, Beth Roberts and Libby Barbour, have reached the highest level because of the family atmosphere.

"They help us get through the hard times, when we're down they lift us up. I think that has a big part in how well we have been in our success the past two years," Roberts said.

The Lady Blue Devils are looking to become the first three-peat state champs since 2004. Tift County was close to a possible four-peat after qualifying for the state meet four years ago. A fourth place finish showed Tift County how they could improve, and the Lady Blue Devils embraced the challenge.

"It did motivate us and humbled us because we went in believing for sure we could win it," Tift County head coach Jodi Roberts said. "The next year, we were determined to win. Last year, we we're even more determined to win it. This year, we are way more determined to win it".

With college gymnastics approaching for most of the team, this isn't the end of the road. But another state championship may be the top highlight.

"Over half of the team is seniors, it would be a great way to just top everything off," Barbour said.

"I've been very emotional the past week just thinking about. We're at the end andâ|I don't want it to end. I'm so grateful and so blessed that I got to work with these girls," Coach Roberts said.