AUGUSTA — The Mt. Blue cheerleading team is getting reacquainted with that state championship feeling. For Monmouth Academy, that feeling has never left.

Both teams earned berths in the state competition Saturday afternoon at the regional championships at the Augusta Civic Center, Mt. Blue accomplishing the feat in A North with a sixth-place finish and Monmouth punching its ticket with a third-place result in C South. They were joined by Gardiner, which edged Waterville for the final spot in the top-six cutoff at the B North event at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.

It will be the second straight trip to the Class A championships for the Cougars, who hadn’t made states since 2010 before breaking through last year. Mt. Blue totaled 68.2 points to finish behind winner Lewiston (87), Bangor (85), Brewer (76.4), Oxford Hills (73.3) and Hampden (71.9). Lawrence (59.8) was eighth, followed locally by Cony (11th, 51.6), Skowhegan (12th, 50.2) and Messalonskee (13th, 47.1).

“This time around, (the difference) was just teamwork,” said Cougars coach Holly Gould, whose team improved on last year’s 64.9 score. “Pushing through injuries, illnesses … the sprained ankles. They pulled together as a team, that’s all I could ask of them today.”

Mt. Blue’s 15-person squad, led by senior Kristen Kerr and a junior contingent of Britnie Macomber, Lauren Littlefield and Brianna Jackson, worked well in unison, which its members said reflected a season-long theme.

“I think it’s just a lot of really hard work, and the team coming together instead of being individuals,” Kerr said. “Working for each other and not just for ourselves, because we all wanted to do this. … It was always our goal this year to make it to states again, and we put the routine together with the thought of going to states.”

The team was confident it had the performance in store to move on, though some aspects turned out better than expected.

“The stunts actually hit,” Macomber said. “They’ve been a little rough this year, but we all hit them and that made us really excited. It’s been a long time for that.”

There was a degree of payback at the top, where Lewiston avenged a rare defeat in the KVAC championships to Bangor by clipping the Rams in a return to Augusta.

“I think they definitely came out with some fire,” Blue Devils coach Lysa Laverdiere said. “They didn’t want to feel that feeling again.”

While Mt. Blue celebrated a trip to states that had become rare, Monmouth cheered its way to one that’s become an expectation. It’s been a while since the Mustangs’ season ended shy of the state competition — coach Shannon Fields said the team has made it since at least the early 2000s — but the feeling of reaching the final stage hasn’t lost its luster.

“It definitely feels special,” she said. “The biggest thing we have our mind on is make it to states and impress those judges.”

The third-place finish, behind Lisbon (66.7) and Dirigo (56.8) and ahead of Sacopee Valley (54.4), Wiscasset (50.8), Boothbay (50.3) and Madison (ninth, 38.6) likely felt even more special after complications regarding the team’s music prevented it from competing in the MVC championships.

“We are really, really impressed. We had another struggle this year with girls not being able to cheer and getting our music really late,” Fields said. “And they pulled it out in about a week. I’m just so proud.”

The Mustangs also had two team members unable to participate, but with only six on the floor beat five larger teams.

“We weren’t expecting to get that high in points,” senior Maddie Lombardo said. “We didn’t know what our competition was going to look like, we didn’t know anything. I think the fact that we made it to states was greater than I could ever imagine.”

Gardiner, which had only two cheerleaders back from last year’s team, nonetheless made states after missing out a season ago, totaling 58.9 points to finish behind Hermon (81.4), Ellsworth and Old Town (76.3), John Bapst (65.6) and Presque Isle (59.9). Waterville (58.4) was seventh, followed by Erskine (ninth, 57.4), Winslow (12th, 53.2), Nokomis (13th, 50.2) and Mount View (14th, 49.5).

“We lost one stunt today, but the rest of the routine was very clean,” Gardiner coach Jeanne Moody said. “They’re really coachable kids. They’re great kids, they work hard and we push them as much as we can. … It’s gotten better and better as time has gone on.”

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM

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