For most cheerleading teams, a third-place finish in a regional competition is not too big of a deal.
But for the Presque Isle Wildcats, such a finish represented the ultimate accomplishment.
Prior to Saturday, the Wildcats hadn’t qualified for a state competition in 10 years.
“My sophomore year, we were just happy to get ninth place out of 19 teams, and now we got this, so it’s really great,” said Bethany Lord after Saturday’s Class B regionals at the Bangor Auditorium.
Lord is one of seven seniors on the squad.
“We were definitely nervous, you always are before you go to a competition, but all the nerves got into excitement and we just got really into it,” added classmate Meghan Boucher.
The Wildcats were dealt some bad luck at the Big East championships in Old Town two weekends ago, as the school’s sound system malfunctioned near the end of the team’s first-round routine.
Officials brought in a boom box, but every time Presque Isle’s tumblers would execute a back-handspring or tuck, the music would skip, prompting coach Jolene Kinney to finish the routine with a five-count.
“I want to make sure every time they’re on the floor they’re looking the best that they can look,” Kinney said.
Her team finished third at that competition, enhancing the Wildcats’ confidence heading into regionals, where they stuck their difficult routine with precision.
After the Wildcats’ finish was announced, their smiles grew wider.
“It feels amazing, a lot of the underclassmen don’t know what it feels like to be in the losing section, but it feels amazing to finally do good here,” Lord said.
It’s special for the seniors, among them Kinney’s daughter, Jordyn.
“These seniors are really important to me, they’re really special to me because they’re my daughter’s friends,” Kinney said. “This is really important to them to show them that hard work and dedication, even in the off-season, really pays off.”
Perhaps even more special is the fact that Caribou — which finished fourth at regionals — will join Presque Isle in Augusta on Feb. 6, drawing attention to a sport in an area where basketball and soccer often take center stage.
“I love that the County is represented, the County is going as a third of the [Class B] teams going,” Kinney said. “That says something for us. We’re obviously an up and coming sport in the northern area. I’m really glad we did the 3-4 and I’d love to go 1-2 [at states].”
Presque Isle’s other team members are Megan Byers, Kaitlin Calabrese, Naiomi Donovan, Paige Doyen, Brittany Good, Julea Gorneault, Lorraine Hughes, Mackenzie Lamoureux, Courtney Lyford, Gabrielle McCrum, Michaela Powers, Miranda Thompson-Lovely and Bonnie Zeng.
Rams making a charge
When the Bangor girls basketball team suffered a defeat at the hands of Erskine Academy on Jan. 9, the Rams’ tournament chances appeared to vanish.
But that setback only added fuel to coach Tom Tennett’s club’s fire, and the Rams have responded by winning three of their last four games with the lone loss being a 42-38 defeat to undefeated Skowhegan, a game which Bangor had a chance to win.
“After Erskine, our confidence was way down, but Skowhegan and the games since then have just boosted us every game,” Rams’ senior Stephanie Comstock said after they defeated Mount Ararat of Topsham at home Friday.
Bangor, which is in 10th place in Class A — eight teams will qualify for the postseason — still has two pointworthy games remaining in tonight’s clash with Messalonskee of Oakland at home and at Skowhegan on Friday.
The Eagles beat Bangor 66-46 in Oakland on Dec. 17, and even though Messalonskee has been without point guard Ari Perry all season (knee injury), this is still a club that played for a state title last winter.
“Messalonskee’s a good team, if they’re making the three’s, they’re tough,” Tennett said.
Bangor’s defense and fewer turnovers on offense have vastly improved throughout the season, two traits necessary for a tourney run.
“We’re just going to go after Messalonskee so hard and we’re just going to get ready for one game at a time, but we’re all really, really, really excited,” said junior Hillary Throckmorton.
MDI, Ellsworth go pink
The Mount Desert Island and Ellsworth girls basketball teams are archrivals on the court, but the Trojans and Eagles collaborated for a worthy cause recently.
When MDI and Ellsworth met at Bar Harbor on Jan. 15, the two teams raised awareness for breast cancer by donning pink warmup T-shirts.
“Some of the kids were wearing pink shoelaces,” said MDI coach Brent Barker. “It was a very, very good night. We sold almost 200 T-shirts that night.”
The same shirts the two teams wore during warmups were sold at the door with proceeds benefiting breast cancer awareness.
MDI’s athletic teams consistently participate in fundraisers throughout the year, such as working water stations during the MDI Marathon in October, while the Trojans have had a cancer awareness night the last three seasons, including this winter.
“Two years ago we did it because Diane Rollins from Central came in, and I know she had it so I thought it’d be kind of a good tribute to hear,” Barker said. “With Ellsworth coming in, our archrival, I thought that would draw a crowd … so that’s why we picked that game.”