BANGOR, Maine — When the final results of Saturday’s Eastern Maine Class C cheerleading championships were being read, the Sumner Tigers grew excited as other teams’ places were divulged.
But when Houlton was announced as the runner-up, that turned into a mix of excitement and emotion and a celebration that that may have been heard back in East Sullivan.
Coach Monica Chipman’s team won its first-ever regional championship with 132.4 points at the Bangor Auditorium, outdistancing 12 other squads.
“This is my third season coaching, and I’ve taken them to states every year, but I’ve been waiting, waiting for this to come,” Chipman said.
Houlton registered 123.1 points while Washington Academy took third with 122.4.
Rounding out the six teams heading to the state competition in Augusta Feb. 6 were Central of Corinth, defending regional champion Dexter and Orono.
Central Aroostook of Mars Hill captured its third straight regional crown in the East-West Class D competition earlier in the afternoon.
In Class C, the feeling of accomplishment overwhelmed the Tigers, as tears of joy poured from squad members and coaches alike.
“This feels so amazing, we’ve never done this before. Our team did awesome,” said Haley Sandstrom, one of 12 juniors on the squad.
First-year member Jacob Backman is Sumner’s lone senior, and his tumbling was a crucial piece to the Tigers’ routine, which they had been working on since December.
“He’s progressed a lot during the season,” Chipman said. “Besides being on the team he’s gone to a gymnastics class and actually perfected [his tumbling] there with a gymnast.”
It was a good thing he did, as the Tigers added some back-tucking to the tumbling portion of its routine while the stunt difficulty was high.
“Our stunting is very elite. We did three double-down twists this year, which is a big addition to our routine,” Chipman said.
The Tigers’ routine was very clean — they weren’t deducted any points — and their spirits were high throughout the day.
“We were very excited, our coach, she was jumping up and down and screaming and it got us really pumped up,” said Jalisa Patten.
Sumner’s other squad members are Ashley Andrews, Josie Barker, Brianna Bishko, Whitney Doughty, Sarah Frost, Emily Ingalls, Jordyn Knowles, Maria Lockhart, Kelsey Martin, Brooke Raynor, Jordan Rivers, Ashtyn Thomas and Alexandria Tracy.
In Class D, it was business as usual for Central Aroostook, which has won the last two state titles.
The Panthers registered 115.4 points while Deer Isle-Stonington earned second with 100.5.
Buckfield, Bangor Christian, Schenck of East Millinocket and Machias are also moving on to Augusta.
Central Aroostook, which features three seniors, had a little bit of everything in its routine from a high pyramid to high basket tossing and a double-down twist. The Panthers weren’t quite sure how things would play out after performing.
“We weren’t quite sure but we know that we did the best that we could and we were just praying for the best,” said senior Brittany Moser.
The Panthers’ prayers were answered, and there were even a few tears (happy ones, of course).
“It’s my senior year, it really means a lot to us,” said Sarah Michaud.
Any tweaks to the Panthers’ difficult routine remain to be seen.
“That’s a surprise, you’ll find out [at states],” said Rachel Donovan.
Coach Sami Jo Allen’s other team members are Heather Bell, Lexie and Mariah Brewer, Kayla Demoura, Kyle Donahue, Patricia Donovan, Laken Kingsbury, Whitney Klein, Brittni Mosher, Genevive Parker and Kellie Stitham.
Deer Isle-Stonington pieced together a high-energy routine that featured a lot of tumbling and three flyers in earning its runner-up plaque.
Coach Kim Larsen’s Mariners are made up of Dakota Brown, Sarah Burgess, Kalsea Cote, Kelsey Davis, Samantha Dunham, Kayla Eaton, Sara Eaton, Goldie Garcia, Stormi Hardi, Amber Jones, Emma Merritt, Danielle Powers, Paige Rollins, Stephanie Siebert and Sarah Wilson.