AUGUSTA, Maine — With back-to-back state championships already under its belt, the Central Aroostook cheerleading squad was acutely aware of what it would take to win again.
The Panthers of Mars Hill drew on their experience on all fronts Saturday morning at the Augusta Civic Center.
A one-man lift of teammate Whitney Klein executed by junior co-captain Kevin Donahue was unique during the morning competition and helped the Central Aroostook take home its third consecutive Class D state title.
Coach Sami Allen’s team executed a high-energy, smile-filled performance that netted 120.8 points. Deer Isle-Stonington (115 points) was the runner-up.
“This is my third in a row and it’s just overwhelming,” said CAHS senior co-captain Brittni Mosher. “I didn’t want to go out being a senior and not winning again. It’s like a tradition for me and it’s just amazing.”
Buckfield (114.1) took third to complete the list of Class D teams that qualified for the upcoming New England Championships March 20 in Providence, R.I.
Bangor Christian finished fourth with 103.6 points, followed by Machias (100.1) and Schenck of East Millinocket (98.8).
In the Class A competition, Biddeford made it a three-peat. The Western Maine champions racked up 161.5 points to easily outdistance Eastern Maine runner-up Lewiston (155.4).
Regional champion Bangor High School tallied 154.4 points to finish third for the second straight year, despite having to revamp its routine during the week after losing one of its competitors for undisclosed reasons.
Scarborough (147.8 points) and Marshwood of South Berwick (143.2) rounded out the top five teams.
Mt. Blue of Farmington took sixth place with 136.9 points, followed by Brewer (135.7), Sanford (135.2), Noble of Berwick (133.9), Lawrence of Fairfield (133.5), Hampden (125.9) and Gorham (105.4).
In Class D, Central Aroostook claimed its record eighth state title, tying Monmouth Academy for that honor. CAHS has won five Class D crowns and three in Class C.
“We had such a better performance here than we did at the regionals,” Donahue said. “When you know you nailed it and you get that feeling, you’re like, oh my God, I think we might have just won.”
The Panthers featured high throws during an exuberant routine. Donahue’s eye-catching one-man lift, during which he held Klein over his head by the feet and ankles, was among many highlights.
“I tried it with a new girl, Whitney Klein, this year and at regionals, we tried to get it to go up and it fell,” Donahue said. “So we went back home, we started practicing it even more and we put a twist in there for the dismount.”
Central Aroostook is led by senior captains Rachel Donovan, Mosher and Sarah Michaud and junior Donahue. The rest of the Panther team is made up of sophomores Kellie Stitham, Whitney Klein, Mariah Brewer and Patricia Donovan and freshmen Laken Kingsbury and Lexi Brewer.
In Class A, coach Debbie Lebel’s Biddeford team continued its domination.
The Tigers featured several tumbling sequences, including an early series of handsprings. They showed off a variety of strong lifts and were quick, precise and energetic.
“I definitely think it’s teamwork and just working together and overcoming obstacles and knowing that, no matter what, we can come together in the end,” said senior co-captain Kaitlyn Dutremble.
Biddeford is paced by a group of seniors that includes captains Alycia Gelinas and Dutremble, along with Stephanie Hatch, Sarah Martel, Kaitlin Goulet, Alannah Brown, and Kaylie Lachance.
The Tigers’ juniors are Kady Lemelin, Justina Adams, Catrina Wade and Katherine Boucher. The sophomore class consists of Shelby Tardiff, Marina Labreux, Samantha Perron, Karissa Ruck and Alyssa Hartsell.
Freshman members include Mariah Albert, Kimmy Hatch and Natasha Adams.
“I think it was actually probably harder, because everyone’s gunning for us,” Gelinas said of winning again. “We really just want to stay on top and do our best. We went out there and we hit it and we were able to live up to the hype.”
Coach Stephanie Crane’s Bangor team rallied in the face of some adversity and earned a third-place finish for the second straight year. A team member became academically ineligible last week and the Rams had to adjust.
“I’m satisfied with [Saturday’s] performance,” said senior co-captain Hanya Phillips. “We put together some new stuff [Friday] night because we didn’t practice Wednesday.
Bangor turned in a strong routine.
“We felt awesome about it,” said senior co-captain Aimee Conner. “We had more energy and we had to work on a lot of things.”