AUGUSTA — It’s the last of the winter sports to begin, starting a month and a half after its counterparts. When that official beginning finally comes, though, Maine’s competition cheer season commences with one big party.

Saturday’s Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference, Mountain Valley Conference and Western Maine Conference championships at the Augusta Civic Center were no different. From teams surrounding the competition floor to cheer on opponents to the post-meet dance party, this was the start for which everyone had been waiting.

“We had a showcase last week, but this was the chance for us to really go all out and show off our stuff,” said Waterville/Messalonskee’s Hannah King. “The cheer community is all about us supporting each other, so with all the teams here, it’s a really exciting experience.”

Thirty-five teams competed in Augusta with 23 representing the KVAC (split into Class A and Class B), eight from the MVC and four from the WMC. Team titles went to Lewiston (KVAC A, 83.30 points) Winslow (KVAC B, 72.80 points), Lisbon (MVC, 82.10 points) and Gray-New Gloucester (WMC, 62.15 points).

The emotion was palpable with every team having something to prove. Winslow, head coach Amy Davidson said, hadn’t won a KVAC championship since at least the late 1980s, but the Black Raiders felt as if they had a chance when they took the mats just before noon.

Mt. Blue finished second in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B cheering championship with a score of 64.8 Saturday at the Augusta Civic Center. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

It wasn’t a total runaway, but Winslow finished 8.0 points clear of Mt. Blue, which beat out Leavitt (63.3 points) and reigning champ Erskine Academy (63.15 points) in a tight race for second. The wait to hear their names as winners was certainly nerve-wracking, but they were far from surprised.


“The second we stepped off the mat, everyone huddled up (behind the curtains) out back, and we said, ‘Oh my god; we just did that,’” said Adeline Blackstone, a junior captain. “I think we knew we had it then, and when we heard them say we won, it was just so amazing.”

For Waterville/Messalonskee, this meet was a chance to highlight the growth of a young program. A co-op was in its infancy last year when it brought together two struggling programs, it competed Saturday in new uniforms that combined a neutral black with Waterville’s purple and Messalonskee’s red.

The performance went about as well as Waterville/Messalonskee could have planned. The team, its captains agreed, nailed its routine, and after its debut a year ago, Jocelyn Poulliot noticed her squad getting more recognition on the same stage this time around.

Cheerleaders line the floor encouraging other teams during the cheering championships Saturday at the Augusta Civic Center. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

“I think we’re getting a lot more attention from people, and it makes you say, ‘Wow, this is really cool, actually,’” said Poulliot, whose team finished fifth of 16 teams in KVAC Class B with 55.7 points. “We totally hit our routine today. It was great.”

With music blaring at all times, there was plenty of inter-team camaraderie between performances. During a delay to clean the mats, the Boothbay and Spruce Mountain teams jammed out together to Olivia Rodrigo’s “good 4 u” for the song’s entirety. Dua Lipa’s “Levitating” also drew enthusiasm from the competitors.

Then, there was the roar that erupted as “Cha Cha Slide” came on over the loudspeakers. That sparked a mat-wide dance party that, along with a dance circle that broke out during NSYNC’s “Bye Bye Bye,” after which cheerleaders from Lewiston and Hampden Academy took turns bodysurfing.

It was the perfect way to pass a gap between the final performance and awards ceremony that seemed as if it might never end. There was surely a lot on the minds of cheerleaders waiting to hear if they’d won, but instead of tension, athletes who only get a handful of competitions per year soaked in the moment.

“The support is incredible; it’s nothing like I’ve ever seen before,” said Winslow’s Ally Spencer. “As a senior, starting it off like this is so much fun. It’s really like all the teams here are a family.”

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