AUGUSTA — Medomak Valley cheering coach Heather Simmons knows the nerves that come with competing at the Augusta Civic Center, and competing in front of a big crowd, in a big arena, on a big stage.

“We’re used to performing in small gyms, and then you get here with a very large crowd,” she said. “And sometimes it’s overwhelming.”

More than most, Medomak Valley doesn’t make it look that way. The Panthers won their fifth consecutive Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B championship Monday, earning a score of 78.4 to beat Leavitt (60.8), Erskine (59.4), Morse (59.3) and Gardiner (50.2).

Winslow (46.1) was sixth, while Waterville (seventh, 45.7), Mount View (eighth, 44.3), and Nokomis (10th, 33.3) were also area competitors.

“It’s a hard accomplishment,” Simmons said. “You’re always worried about someone outdoing you and keeping you motivated at practice. … At the end of the day, we can only control ourselves. If my kids are proud and I’m proud at the end of our performance, that’s all I can control. If it’s enough to win, then great.”

It’s a similar approach taken by coach Lysa McLemore at Lewiston, which won its second straight KVAC A crown and 10th in 11 years with 87.3 points, holding off Bangor (83.2), Oxford Hills (72.4), Brewer (71.1) and Lawrence (61.7). Cony (57.4) was eighth, Mt. Blue (50.8) was ninth, Skowhegan (42.8) was 10th and Messalonskee (40.3) was 11th.

“We’ve been working really hard on being the best version of ourselves this year,” McLemore said, “and really competing against ourselves every practice, every competition, and not worrying about what else is going on at the events.”

Lewiston has won 13 conference titles since 2004.

“I’m obviously blessed with very talented cheerleaders,” McLemore said. “But I think I push them past their limits every single day, and they take on that challenge and they rise to the occasion. I think that’s what makes the difference.”

Marissa Larock, one of six seniors on the Blue Devils, said she and her teammates weren’t sure after the performance if they had done enough for the win.

“We were kind of skeptical at first, because we try to do our best every single time, and we didn’t do our absolute best this past performance,” she said. “We were thinking ‘Oh, maybe we got second,’ but we pushed through.”

The concern was for nothing. Lewiston bested its winning score from last year to edge out Bangor, the lone team to beat the Blue Devils since 2008.

“I wanted it to look like they were having fun,” McLemore said. “It’s pretty obvious that they do, and I found that when you do that, the skills kind of come with it.”

In Class B, Simmons said there hasn’t been a formula to follow in building the longest winning streak in the class since Rockland won eight straight from 1997-2004.

“Cheer is ever-evolving,” she said. “They’re always re-doing the scoresheets, and the ratios are always different every year. … You do what your team can do, you do it well, and you hope that it’s enough on that day.”

It certainly was Monday, as the gap between the Panthers and second-place Leavitt was greater than the one between the Hornets and eighth-place Mount View.

“Our objective was to stay in the air,” Simmons said. “Stay in the air, be confident, and they work really hard, they put countless hours into tumbling. They were perfect in tumbling today.”

Senior Cassi Smeltzer said she knew right away her team had nailed the routine.

“Once we hit our first two stunts and even our tumbling, we knew we were going to cruise the whole way through,” she said.

Erskine had to overcome a potential setback on its way to third place. The Eagles were in the middle of their routine when Adalaide Morris came down and rolled her ankle, forcing the routine to be stopped and Erskine to have to finish at the end of the meet.

Unfazed, the Eagles posted a score 14.9 points better than their fifth-place total from last year.

“I am just extremely proud of them for coming back and being confident on the mat,” coach Julie Wing said. “Starting halfway through the routine is never easy. They did a great job.”

Assistant coach Tarsha Donar said the team didn’t need to be told much before finishing its set.

“We kind of just tell them how confident they are, and that they did an awesome job to begin with,” she said. “There was an injury, but they were doing amazing. So go out there, smile, and keep proving how awesome you are.”

Messalonskee won the Jamie Beth Shible Award, given to the most improved team, in Class A, while Waterville won it in Class B.

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM


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