AUGUSTA — The Madison cheerleading team stuck with what it knows works at the Western C championships Saturday.

“I always stay with the same principle and that I go with what I know is safe,” Madison coach Amber Noyes said. ” I always choose the routine I know they will hit and they did. We wanted to get to states and we did.”

Indeed, the Bulldogs are headed back to the Class C state championships. They finished third in Western C with 101.5 points. Lisbon won the regional title with 128.3 while Monmouth was second in 110.4.

“We weren’t thinking about placement,” Madison co-captain Courtney Edgerly said. “We knew what we wanted to do.”

The top six teams at each regional qualify for the state championships.

The Bulldogs turned in a penalty-free performance and improved upon their fourth-place showing at the Mountain Valley Conference championships.

“We’re excited,” Madison co-captain Hunter Clark said. “We’ve worked really hard to be where we’re at.”

The Mustangs were the first team on the mat.

“It was more relaxing,” Monmouth senior Miranda Allen said. “We wanted to set the stage for everyone else.”

Added Monmouth captain Meagan Michaud: “We did what we wanted to do. We always tell each other, no regrets, and we don’t have any.”

Monmouth coach Mike Gilbert said the Mustangs tweaked their routine since the MVC championships, adding a few elements of difficulty. The move paid off Saturday as Monmouth performed a penalty-free routine.

“We knew we had to increase our points,” Gilbert said. “We start off with a Plan B and we work up from there. We had a clean routine (Saturday).”

So, too, did Gardiner at the Western B championships. The Tigers finished third in Western B with 124.8 points to earn their first appearance at a state championship cheerleading event in 10 years. Medomak Valley won the regional title with 131.4 points while Wells was second with 129.9.

“Ten years is a long time,” Gardiner coach Jeanne Moody said. “I’ve been waiting a long time for this.”

Moody, who is in her 25th year as Gardiner coach, credited an increase in numbers and a more difficult routine that catapulted the team into states. The Tigers featured 12 cheerleaders on the floor Saturday. They brought just eight to the Civic Center last year.

“We really stepped up,” Moody said. “It’s nice to have the numbers this year, too.”

Added Gardiner senior Paige Hinkley: “We added a degree of difficulty and that helped.”

The Tigers spent much of the morning watching their fellow competition. They were the 11th of 12 teams to perform.

“It was kind of nervous but we saw what we needed to do and what not to do,” Hinkley said.

Senior Hannah Morgan agreed, saying the tension mounted throughout the session.

Still, the Tigers persevered thanks to a routine that included more stunts.

“Going next to last, it was a difficult thing,” Morgan said. “We’re just so excited. We worked hard for this.”

Elsewhere Saturday, Waterville finished seventh in Eastern B to narrowly miss out on qualifying for the state championship competition.

Defending New England champ Lewiston won its fourth consecutive Eastern A title. The two-time defending Class A state champ Blue Devils finished with 161.4 points while Bangor finished second with 154.4. Brewer (146.9), Edward Little (142.5), Oxford Hills (132.8) and Hampden (127.3) rounded out the top six.

Lewiston coach Lynnette Morency said her squad still isn’t in peak form.

“We’re not hitting clean yet,” she said. “I wanted to see the girls have a clean routine here but we don’t want to peak too early,”

Lawrence finished seventh, just missing out of qualifying for states.

Other regional champs Saturday included the following: Deer-Isle Stonington (Class D East/West), Dexter (Eastern C) and Ellsworth (Eastern B).

Bill Stewart – 621-5640

bstewart@centralmaine.com