AUGUSTA — The Lewiston High School cheering team’s dominant run was safe for another year — until the very last routine of the day.

That belonged to Bangor, which performed well enough to earn a score of 82.8 and snap the Blue Devils’ streak of eight straight titles at the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference championships Monday morning at the Augusta Civic Center.

“Lewiston is a great team, they’ve had a great dynasty with KVACs,” Rams co-coach Stephanie Crane said. “I’m so happy, I’m almost speechless. We worked so hard, and to come out on top is a wonderful feeling.”

Lewiston, the champion each year from 2009-16, finished runner-up in Class A with 81.2 points, followed by Oxford Hills (67.1), Hampden Academy (63.5) and Lawrence (63.4). The status quo continued in Class B, where Medomak Valley totaled 82.1 points to win its third straight crown and fifth in seven years. Leavitt was a distant second at 71.1, while Morse (64.2) was third, Erskine Academy (62.5) was fourth and Gardiner (58.3) was fifth.

“We’ve been working really hard on being perfect during our performances,” Panthers coach Heather Simmons said. “We had a little timing issue with the jumps and a little bobble on the stunts, but that’s been our best performance we’ve ever had at KVACs.”

Improvement was a theme for area teams, particularly with an Erskine group that rose only from fifth in 2016 to fourth but saw its point total leap from 53.8 last year.

“I wanted to be top four today, so we made our goal,” coach Julie Wing said. “We tried to accomplish elite-level stunting, so we took out all our fronts. We just tried to accomplish a much harder routine and (higher) confidence level.”

The Eagles are no strangers to adversity, both long-term — Erskine hasn’t made the Class B state tournament since 1997 — and short-term, as assorted bumps, bruises and ankle and wrist injuries throughout the roster provided early hindrances that have been tough to shake off.

“We’ve been having some rough times,” senior Ally Kennedy said. “We’ve had injuries and stunts just not hitting, but we really pulled through and just took it one stunt at a time.”

According to Kennedy, a fast start in a tricky area helped the team break through.

“I feel like our second stunts, our pancakes, were really good,” she said. “We usually have trouble with those, and they all hit, which is all I could really ask for.”

The morning wasn’t perfect — Wing said the team lost points with a stumble on its pyramid. But she said the result bodes well going forward as Erskine looks to eclipse last year’s seventh-place regional finish, with the top six teams advancing to states.

“We’ve got a few things to work on, but we certainly know we can come back at regionals and hope for a place at states,” she said. “Our pyramid didn’t quite go today, we didn’t quite hit it. But we know with a little practice this week and next week, we can certainly do it.”

The Jamie Beth Shible Award, given to the most improved program, went to area schools as well. Lawrence took the prize in Class A, as the Bulldogs climbed from 10th in 2016 to fifth under the watch of first-year head coach Kori Whited. Mt. Blue (sixth, 62.1), Cony (11th, 54), Skowhegan (12th, 45.9) and Messalonskee (13th, 42.8) rounded out the area A teams.

“We didn’t go into it with a specific place in mind,” said Whited, who guides the team alongside former head coach Alicia Curtis. “We just knew that we wanted to be better than they had done before. … We’re really working together to push them to be better than they’ve ever been. They were definitely successful at that today.”

The Bulldogs were the first team on the floor, and Whited said they used the opportunity to make an immediate impression.

“We went into it with a positive mindset,” she said. “We thought of it in a good way, to try to set the bar high.”

The award went to Waterville in Class B, as the Panthers totaled 54.4 points to finish sixth ahead of area teams Winslow (eighth, 50.8), Mount View (ninth, 50.5) and Nokomis (10th, 39.9). Waterville placed ninth last season.

“The girls this year were definitely a lot more confident than they have been in the past,” said Panthers coach Alyssa Flye, whose team had only nine people participating. “One of our main goals was to focus on building the name for the cheering squad at Waterville. It’s a very small program … and we really just want to raise the name for it and bring awareness to the team, show the people that there is potential there.”

The potential was realized for Bangor, which was the last team to take the floor (with the exception of Edward Little finishing a routine it started earlier but had to be cut short due to injury), but which turned the judges’ heads with a complex routine that featured a bevy of throws, stunts and flips.

“I don’t think I could be any more excited at their performance. It’s the best performance that they have done so far this season,” co-coach Kate Robichaud said. “They definitely didn’t come in thinking they were going to win today. They came in thinking we’re going to hopefully hit our routine and do the best that we can do.”

Against the Blue Devils, for the first time in years, it was enough.

“I think they did the best they could,” coach Lysa Laverdierre said. “We’re obviously disappointed, but Bangor put on an awesome show. It was their day today.”

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM

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