AUGUSTA — If anyone can relate to the season the New England Patriots have had, it’s the Gardiner Area High School competition cheering team.

Like the AFC finalists, the Tigers have been nursing injuries for much of the season in hopes of having as many healthy bodies as possible for when the competition really matters.

“We’ve had broken bones, bad backs, sprains…” Gardiner coach Jeanne Moody said, listing off the maladies that have afflicted her team going back to last year.

The Tigers’ health has slowly improved, and on Monday they showed what they could do with a full squad by finishing second to defending champion Medomak Valley in Class B at the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference championship at the Augusta Civic Center.

In Class A, Lewiston continued its dynasty with its eighth consecutive conference title.

Gardiner edged Leavitt by one point for the runner-up spot, 63.4 to 62.4 (out of a perfect score of 100), well behind Medomak Valley (80.4), which won its fourth Class B title in the last six years.

Injuries forced the Tigers to change their routine and required team members to learn new spots and moves for the routine. They admitted they didn’t feel they had doubts until they practiced their routine just before taking the mat on Monday.

“We had a lot of determination to better ourselves because we’ve been practicing so hard,” Gardiner co-captain Gabrielle Sullivan said. “I feel like none of us were really expecting to finish second and it’s a great surprise.”

“Being one of the injured people, it was not easy to come back and try to get the team to come together for a second-place spot,” co-captain Hunter Norris said.

Norris pinched a nerve in her foot in the fall and was in a boot for a month before returning to full participation last week.

“This is my first full week back. I’m wrapped and ready to go,” she said. “Coming back to take second place and kick some butt with my girls is pretty awesome.”

Mount View (55.8) was fourth, Erskine Academy (53.8) fifth. Out of 12 teams in Class B, Winslow finished seventh, Waterville ninth, Nokomis 10th and Maine Central Institute 11th.

Nokomis coach Tiani Smith was pleased with the young Warriors’ performance, in part because Nokomis did not compete last year. Monday marked the first big competition for many on the freshman-and-sophomore dominated squad.

“I thought they did a pretty good job considering that they were extremely nervous,” said Smith, who has just three seniors. “They’ve come a long way. They didn’t compete last year, so they were a little excited and nervous to get back in there this year. I’m extremely proud of my girls and what they did.”

Lewiston collected its eighth consecutive conference Class A title with 83.8 points. Oxford Hills (76.6) was second, followed by Bangor (75.3), Mt. Blue (64.4) and Brunswick (64.2).

Lawrence, Cony and Messalonskee finished 10th, 11th and 12th, respectively.

The performance wasn’t quite up to par for the Blue Devils, who have won four of the last five state championships.

“A win a is a win, so we’ll take it,” Lewiston coach Lysa Laverdierre said, “but we definitely have a lot of things to work on going into this weekend.”

The regional championships are Saturday at either the Civic Center or Bangor’s Cross Insurance Center, depending on the class. Regardless of Monday’s results, KVAC teams will go into that competition with a better idea of what they need to tweak.

“I think they’re definitely ready,” Smith said of Nokomis. “I said right now is the time where they can make their mistakes. We have the rest of the week to really perfect it and get their confidence up a little bit because they know that they can do it.”

“We’ve got some clean-up work to do. We had a couple of bobbles there, but we feel good,” said Moody, whose team was third last year. “This is a big confidence booster for us today because we have gone through a lot of challenges with injuries and stuff.”

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @RAWmaterial33


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