BANGOR, Maine — After losing seven people from last year’s team, the strategy for the Central Aroostook Panthers cheerleaders was simply to sell their routine and show skeptics at their school that they could do it.
They certainly proved the cynics wrong, earning their second consecutive Class D state championship title at a packed Bangor Auditorium on Saturday with 118.5 points.
“Losing seven people from our last year’s team, people at our school thought we weren’t going to be able to compete.” said Panthers coach Sami Jo Allen. “They’re like, you lost everybody, you’re starting from scratch, but we proved to everybody that we can do it.”
At the beginning of the season, one of five returning members, junior Brittni Mosher, wasn’t sure if the team would go all the way this year due to the fact the team is mostly underclassmen.
“We pulled through and we worked really, really hard, and we ended up winning!” said Mosher.
Rangeley was the Class D runner-up, scoring 108.5, followed closely by Jonesport-Beals with 108.1 and Machias with 107.2.
Coming off a fourth place in the Western Maine regional, the Biddeford Tigers earned their second consecutive Class A state championship by edging the Lewiston Blue Devils, scoring a 164.9 compared to Lewiston’s 160.3.
The Bangor Rams, a crowd favorite at Saturday’s competition, scored a 159.7, turning in a fine all-around performance and earning third place for a spot in the New England competition. The Rams were followed by Marshwood of Eliot at 150.1.
The top three teams in each classification will compete in the New England championships, which will be held March 21 at the University of New Hampshire in Durham.
There were eight teams in the Class D competition and 12 in Class A. There were no call-backs.
The Panthers had a fast-paced routine that included double twists from extension preps, which actually resulted in a five-point penalty. The only major changes in the Panthers’ routine was alternate Kayla DeMoura stepping in for Kellie Stitham, who was unable to compete.
“Instead of having five tumblers, which would put me over half, we had four. So that made a difference on scoring,” said Allen.
The Central Aroostook squad is made up of Mariah Brewer, Kayla DeMoura, Kyle Donahue, Rachael Donahue, Patricia Donovan, Rachel Donovan, Whitney Klein, Sarah Michaud, Mosher, Keri Pelletier, and Kellie Stitham.
Allen was pleased with her team’s effort and what it meant to the school.
“It is excellent, it’s nice to go back to back from last year and win it again. This is my third state title and it’s very nice,” she said.
Mosher succinctly summed up the meaning of the victory for her team.
“It means a lot coming from a small school where the town mainly revolves around basketball,” she said. “We like to prove to them that cheerleading is a sport and it means a lot because we were winners last year, so we’d like to defend our state title and we did.”
In Class A, Biddeford had high expectations coming into the competition off last year’s win.
“We felt nervous, but we were confident in our routine.” coach Debbie Lebel said. “We have a really hard routine and at first we struggled with it [at regionals], coming in fourth place, but they picked up the pace and did better.”
Lebel said the Tigers didn’t make any major changes to their routine over the past two weeks.
“We seized a couple of the formations for tumbling. We were struggling, we kept touching down, so we changed that up just a little bit. We changed one of our stunts to make it more solid, but minor changes not major changes,” she said.
Biddeford featured a fast-paced routine.
“There’s not a lot of down time, it’s from one thing to the other, and skill-wise they have it, but when you have to throw it into such a fast-paced routine it’s a little more difficult,” Lebel said.
The Biddeford team is made up of Kaleigh Daigneault, Kelsey Martin, Stephanie Hatch, Kaitlyn Dutremble, Sarah Martel, Alycia Gelinas, Kaitlin Goulet, Shelby Tardif, Karissa Ruck, Kady Lemelin, Marina Lebreux, Alannah Brown, Alyssa Hartsell, Katherine Boucher, Cassandra Johnson, Samantha Perron, Kaylee Lachance, Catrina Wade, Shelby Rall, Justina Adams, and Amanda Stackpole.
Lewiston, the runner-up and the EM Class A champ, came into the competition with a strategy of “having fun and just doing what we do,” according to coach Lynnette Morency.
The other team scores in Class D were: Woodland (104.8), Buckfield (103), Deer Isle-Stonington (101.7) and Fort Fairfield (100.2).
The other final team scores in Class A were: Hampden Academy (150), Oxford Hills of South Paris (148.6), Scarborough (148.2), Thornton Academy of Saco (135.2), Sanford (127), Gorham (125.8), Brewer (122.2), and Edward Little of Auburn (118.7).