AUGUSTA, Maine — Second in a cheerleading championship meet isn’t the end of the world when the clear favorite lives up to, even exceeds, its advance billing.
It’s even more palatable when the runner-up gets two weeks to close ranks and tidy up the finer points prior to a rematch on its home turf.
Bangor High School didn’t live the dream of an Eastern Class A title Saturday, falling nearly a dozen points shy of Lewiston High School before a raucous gathering of more than 2,000 at the Augusta Civic Center.
In terms of competing with itself, however, and keeping an eye on the big picture — the state meet on Feb. 7 at the Auditorium — the Rams walked away content and encouraged.
“We just tried to be clean,” said Bangor coach Stephanie Crane. “We worked hard and just got out there and tried to nail our stunts. We hardly changed anything at all.”
Hampden Academy finished a strong third, while Brewer High School claimed the sixth and final transfer spot into the state championship round.
Oxford Hills of South Paris and Edward Little of Auburn also advanced from the East. They will be joined by the West delegation of champion Biddeford, Marshwood of South Berwick, Scarborough, Thornton Academy of Saco, Sanford and Gorham.
Lewiston (159.4 points of a possible 175) had most of the East’s competition beaten from the get-go with its high degree of difficulty.
Three routines ahead of the Devils by virtue of blind draw, Bangor applied some pressure with smooth sailing in its performance. Lewiston slammed the door by pulling off its high-risk theatrics without a hitch.
“We’ve got work to do. We went up five points today from Monday. You’ve got to keep your degree of difficulty up there,” said Lewiston coach Lynnette Morency. “You have to choreograph your routine to get the maximum you can out of your points, your stunts and your tumbling. Once you hit those, you’ve just got to start cleaning.”
Morency cited Bangor as Lewiston’s one rival from the East whose starting point is close to its stratospheric standard.
Don’t be surprised if the Rams, equipped with eight seniors, try even harder to emulate the Devils with their time remaining.
“Thankfully, we have two weeks before states, so we’ll up our difficulty a little bit. We have nothing to lose at this point,” Crane said. “[Lewiston has] a lot of tumblers, but mostly they’re just clean. That’s what we’re really going to strive and look for the next couple weeks is get back to being really clean.”
Hampden (139.1) moved up a notch on the ladder when Edward Little received six deduction points for an illegal stunt.
Brewer (119.1) took advantage of Morse’s similar fate. The Shipbuilders were stripped of 10 points and subsequently lost their state championship berth to the Witches.
State champions only two years ago, Brewer is an unlikely underdog story. These aren’t the same Witches, however. Brewer walked into the regional spotlight with a new coach, a 14-person roster featuring only two seniors and one junior, and all on the heels of an abbreviated schedule.
Thanks to last weekend’s snowstorm, Brewer did not make the trip down Interstate-95 to the KVAC showcase.
“We had one invitational meet, so this was really their first big one,” said Brewer coach Christina Bush. “It was just good to see them go out there and have fun. We’re kind of young, and we’ve had some injuries. We’ve had a rough season. It was nice getting out there and hitting it.”
Two other champions were crowned Saturday among the smaller schools. Wells won Western Class B, while St. Dominic of Auburn prevailed by two-tenths of a point over Monmouth in Western Class C.