AUGUSTA — Defending champion Lewiston won its fourth straight Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A cheerleading championship Monday at the Augusta Civic Center, beating rival Bangor by three points.
The Blue Devils hope to use their KVAC title as a springboard for the Class A state championships, scheduled for Feb. 11 at the Augusta Civic Center. Lewiston snapped Biddeford’s string of three straight state titles last year, but repeating will still be a challenge.
“I have 10 new kids on my team this year out of 20,” Lewiston coach Lynettte Morency said. “Coming in here and winning is a big deal. It’s hard to replace a half a team.”
Like Lewiston, nearly everyone on the Bangor squad was a tumbler which enhanced many of the stunts the team performed.
“(It takes) a lot of hard work,” Morency said, “a lot of conditioning, a lot of determination, a lot of self-discipline.”
Leavitt won the Class B title, beating runner-up Medomak Valley by 14 points. In all, 24 high schools competed in front of about 2,500 fans. They’ll move on to regional competition in two weeks where East and West regions in three classes will be cut to six teams each for the state competition in Bangor and Augusta.
Central Maine teams fared well. Lawrence placed fourth among Class A teams while Mt. Blue was fifth and Cony seventh. In Class B, Waterville placed third, Nokomis fifth and Gardiner sixth.
“They were brilliant,” Waterville coach Melissa Burila said of her team. “They did such a great job today.”
The Purple Panthers will work to perfect and expand their stunts before the regionals.
“We need to increase our tumbling,” Burila said, “and have one of our stunts twist. But we’ve been going safe to make sure the kids have something perfected before they do something they’re not ready for.”
Like Waterville, Gardiner fielded a fairly small team of eight who performed quite well.
“We have a very young team,” Gardiner coach Jeanne Moody said. “We have three kids on there who have never cheered before. We’re trying to get back into that consistency of being there every year.”
Cony and Nokomis received the Jamie Beth Shible Award for most improved team, Cony in Class A and Nokomis in Class B. The award is named in honor of a former Mt. Blue cheerleader who co-captain at the Farmington school from 1995-97 shortly before passing away.
“They have been working hard for the past month on this routine,” second-year Cony coach Erin Eldridge said,. “They wanted it.”
Of the 14 members of Eldridge’s team, nine are seniors.
“This is a big step for Cony,” she said. “They hit their stunts, they had lots of energy.”
Gary Hawkins — 621-5638