AUGUSTA — At approximately 6:30 a.m. Saturday, Monmouth Academy cheerleading head coach Shannon Fields walked into the school’s cafeteria with a group of girls who would compete in the Class C South championship meet a little less than six hours later.

All six of them.

“We showed up and I was worried that we were going to be too tired to get anything done,” Monmouth senior Anna Kulinski said, “but everybody brought their best.”

After losing sophomores Briana Jamison and Sarah Scott earlier in the week, the team was forced to completely change its routine. Yet when the time came to step onto the mat, the undermanned Mustangs proved performing a relatively unrehearsed set would not keep them from their goal of qualifying for the state meet.

Monmouth posted a score of 57.2, which was good enough for third place and one of the six spots up for grabs out of the South for the Class C championship meet Feb. 6 in Bangor. Dirigo held off Sacopee Valley 64.5-61 for the title, while St. Dominic (57), Lisbon (55.5) and Boothbay (49.8) rounded out the top six. Traip was seventh with 45.9 points, while Madison and McAuley withdrew prior to the start of the meet.

“We were nervous,” Monmouth senior Amelia Rowe said. “We knew that the goal was to make it to states, and no matter what place we placed, we wanted to be in the top six and we did it.

“…We can’t believe we got third place. It was a shock to everyone.”

Fields said when the team arrived at Monmouth early Saturday morning there was very little the team knew about the routine they were to perform.

“We had discussed (Friday) night what we were going to do but we had not fully done any of it,” Fields said. “They didn’t know the counts so we got to Monmouth Academy (Saturday) morning at 6:30, we went in and we started practicing for a half hour. We went through each stunt once, we did the routine all the way through and they did so well.

“Then about 45 minutes later we didn’t want to overwork them so we decided you’re going to know now as much as you’re going to know later so we’re just going to stop.”

While the Mustangs ultimately missed both competitors on the mat, the absence of Scott — who was injured earlier in the week and attended Saturday’s meet on crutches — provided a particular challenge as she was the team’s top flyer and tumbler. Much of the flying fell to Madeline Lombardo, a freshman who had little experience in the discipline.

“I think maybe in middle school but not in couple of years,” Fields said of Lombardo’s flying experience. “She was very, very nervous but she did amazing.”

All the nervous moments and sleep-deprived nights — Field said she had not slept in four days — became worth it, though, after Kulinski, Rowe, Lombardo, Amber Michaud, Jenna Brown and Morgan Crocker left the mat on Saturday.

“As soon as I saw them complete the routine I was immediately in tears,” Field said. “I’m so, so proud of them.”

Earlier in the day Saturday it was a far more conventional performance for Lewiston in Class A North. The Blue Devils totaled 84.7 points to top second-place Bangor by five points for their eighth straight regional cheering title.

Brewer (72.8), Oxford Hills (70.8), Mt. Blue (64.9) and Brunswick (62.7) rounded out the teams from Class A headed to the state meet. Lawrence — who was docked six points in deductions — finished in ninth place with 57.5 points, while Cony and Messalonskee placed 11th and 12th, respectively.

“It’s something we really pride ourselves on. It’s not easy. We definitely work hard for it,” first-year Lewiston head coach Lysa Laverdiere said. “It’s pretty special to be a part of it.

“…We have some of the most difficult stunts in the state, and they really strive for perfection in practice and when they perform at competitions so I think that really separates us from the other teams.”

Laverdiere, a former coach at Lewiston Middle School, took over this season after Lynnette Morency resigned in September after nine years at the helm of the Blue Devils. While it may be her first season at the helm, Laverdiere said expectations remain high for Lewiston, who has won four of the previous five Class A titles.

“We have the same expectations as we’ve had in the past years so they’re definitely living up to them,” Laverdiere said. “…There’s a lot of similarities in what we’ve been doing in the past but we’re switching it up a little bit here and there.”

In Bangor on Saturday, Mount View also qualified for the state championships by virtue of its sixth-place performance with 59.3 points in Class B North. There, Old Town (76.4) took home the top spot and was followed by Hermon (75.4), Ellsworth (75.3), John Bapst (66.7) and Presque Isle (65.9). Erskine was ninth with 52.9 points, Gardiner (52.0) took 10th, Winslow (45.4) placed 12th, Waterville (43.6) came in 13th and Nokomis (41.7) was 14th.

Central Aroostook won the Class D North/South regional with 67.4 points to hold off Penobscot (62.6) and Machias (56.3). Rangeley was eighth with 40.4 points. In the Class C North competition, Orono put up a score of 75.4 to top Central (69.0) and Houlton (64.6).

Evan Crawley — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter:@Evan_Crawley


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