BYRON, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF)–The Byron Lady Tigers will be competing at State this weekend in Normal. Byron going to State has a familiar ring to it.

That’s because the Lady Tigers won back-to-back state championships in 2016 and 2017. The stars of those teams were Lexi Devries, Paige Holloway and Bailey Burrows. They had the same head coach that they have now in Eric Yerly.

Watching those teams very closely at State were this year’s current seniors. They were in middle school at the time. They dreamed of following in the footsteps of those older Byron players. Now, here they are, doing exactly that.

“I was right there in the stands watching them,” said current Byron senior Brittyn Bielskis. “They were definitely my role models, and I’m so glad that would could finally bring Byron back to State.”

“I was in the stands, and we all knew that one day we could get here if we really tried,” said senior Ella Grundstrom.

Current Byron senior Ava Kultgen also was in the stands as a youngster watching those State games. “Most of us we went and watched them down there at Redbird Arena, and we saw what it was like. It was super cool for us, and we’ve got the young kids here as well too watching us, and we just want to make an impact on them.”

Yerly says it’s a cycle of success that helps make basketball programs great.

“I told the kids yesterday they don’t realize what they’re doing to keep our program going. There’s a bunch of little eyes that are in the stands that you guys see, and it wasn’t too long ago that they were those kids.”

Byron will play in the 2A State Semifinals Thursday at 2:30 at Illinois State University. Their opponent will be Chicago Butler.