AUGUSTA — Ever the bridesmaids, the Oxford Hills and Leavitt cheering teams finally had their moment to shine.

The Vikings and Hornets snapped strangleholds on the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A and B titles, respectively, at the Augusta Civic Center on Monday afternoon. Oxford Hills took the Class A championship with 87.9 points, earning its first conference title since 2008, which was also the last season neither Lewiston nor Bangor, the two teams typically on each other’s heels for the hardware, prevailed. Bangor finished second at 87.7 (originally 88.7 with a point deduction), while Lewiston (83.2) was third, Hampden Academy (70.7) was fourth and Waterville (54.6) was fifth. Skowhegan (44.3) finished eighth.

“It is wonderful. These kids have been working so hard,” Oxford Hills coach Deb Loveless said. “It’s a very young team, it’s been coming up, and they all work together. It’s been a wonderful experience with them.”

Waterville cheerleaders perform their routine during the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference championships Monday at the Augusta Civic Center. Kennebec Journal photo by Andy Molloy Buy this Photo

The results were no less noteworthy in Class B, where Leavitt ended Medomak Valley’s five-year run as conference champion. The Hornets totaled 77.2 points to snag their first championship since 2012, beating a field led by Medomak (76.3), Brewer (63.9), Lawrence (63.7) and Erskine (61.2). Other local teams in the mix were Nokomis (seventh, 58.2), Mt. Blue (eighth, 58.1), Cony (ninth, 47.7), Winslow (10th, 47.6), Mount View (13th, 34.9) and Gardiner (14th, 33.3).

“I’m very happy. We hit zero (deductions), and that was our main goal coming in,” Leavitt coach Andrea Keneborus said. “That’s what we did, and we’re just going to keep on pushing forward.”

Oxford Hills went 24th out of 28 teams, but impressed the judges with a 15-person routine that Loveless said was intended to emphasize the team’s strength at tumbling.

“(We looked) at the scoresheet, and knew what we had to do and what we do really well,” she said. “They’re not at the top of the stunting yet, but what we did for stunts, we just kept it where we could do it and do it well. Our tumbling is there, we knew we had that, so we just had to highlight the ones that could really tumble.”

Assistant coach Jess Brooks said the team needed to have the routine click the way it did Monday.

“For them, hitting all the stunts gives them all the confidence in the world,” she said. “They needed this moving forward.”

With a margin of victory of just two-tenths of a point, the Vikings needed everything they had and everyone they had. They nearly didn’t have it; Bella Luksza sprained her ankle in the warm-up, but after being tended to by the trainer got the go-ahead to compete.

“The stunt wasn’t going. … They tried it one more time and said ‘We did it,’ ” Loveless said. “I said ‘OK, we’ll see, here it goes.’ ”

With the full team on the mat, the Vikings got a win that, even with the perennial powers in the field, they knew could be theirs.

“I’ve never been on a team like this. It’s the best feeling in the world,” junior Hallie Stevens said. “We wanted to win, we knew we had put in the work, and it paid off.”

The Hornets came out with an acrobatic and, more importantly, clean routine, putting forward the mistake-free performance necessary to deny the Panthers, who have also won eight straight B South regional titles.

“I was thinking that if they could hit a clean routine and just do their job, then everybody has a chance,” Keneborus said. “I wanted them to be confident in what they put on the floor.”

They were, and finally got the victory that had eluded them. Leavitt finished runner-up to Medomak in the last three KVAC championships, and were also second to the Panthers at the B South meet last year.

“I feel incredible. We’ve worked so, so hard and everything’s paid off,” senior Chloe Bellegarde said. “We still have things to work on, but … I’ve never felt so happy and proud of my team.”

Brielle Ouellette, the only other senior on the team, credited Keneborus for getting the most out of her athletes.

“Our coach is a big part of it,” she said. “She cheers us on, and she tells us that she believes in us constantly. That’s definitely a huge part, the mental (side) of performing. She’s a big part of our success today.”

Oxford Hills High School’s cheerleaders perform a routine during the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference championships Monday at the Augusta Civic Center. The Vikings won the KVAC A title. Kennebec Journal photo by Andy Molloy Buy this Photo

The Jamie Beth Shible Award, given to the teams that improved the most from the previous season, went to Edward Little, which was seventh, in Class A, and to Nokomis in Class B. In Class A, Waterville made the top five after missing out the previous year, while in Class B, Erskine pulled off another top-five effort despite having to stop its routine when one of its athletes was unable to finish, and being forced to complete its set at the end of the day.

Lawrence pulled off a top-five finish in its first season in Class B after competing in Class A.

“They did an excellent job. We couldn’t ask any more of them,” coach Kori Whited said. “We’ll work hard this week to up our game next week at regionals. … It’s just the little things for this week, just cleaning up the routine.”

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