BANGOR — The Lewiston Blue Devils were a circle of tightly-curled hair as they bent their heads to the ground, held hands and waited in anticipation. A deafening roar erupted from a pack of blue-clad fans and the cheerleaders leaped into each other’s arms as they were announced as the Class A cheerleading state champions Saturday at the Bangor Auditorium.
The Central Aroostook Panthers, already crowned the Class D champions, cheered for the Devils as they sat around their own plaque, which they took home for the fourth year in a row –- a record for their school. Both teams ascribe their success to one thing: hard work.
In Class D, the Panthers of Mars Hill scored 111.1 points while runner-up Deer Isle-Stonington scored 104.7 points. Jonesport-Beals finished third with 98.7 and Buckfield fifth (93.8), followed by Machias (91.6) and Rangeley (77.1).
In Class A, Lewiston totaled 168.5 points to hold off runner-up Marshwood of Eliot (162.5). Biddeford (152.4) took third, while Noble of South Berwick (150.4) placed fourth, and Brewer (149.4) placed fifth, followed by Scarborough (148.4), Bangor (147.3), Oxford Hills of South Paris (139.8), Bonny Eagle of Standish (136.8), Edward Little of Auburn (136.7), Hampden (132.6) and Thornton Academy of Saco (132.2).
For Class A, the Blue Devils — the last to team to perform — won over the crowd with tumbling skills and difficult stunts.
“It feels awesome. We worked so hard all season,” said captain Rebecca Lessard. “We really like to show off to our fans.”
This is Lewiston’s fourth title since 2003. Last year, they were runners-up.
Since winning the Eastern regional competition, the Blue Devils worked on keeping up their intensity throughout the routine, difficult for a team which expends massive amounts of energy on squad-wide tumbling and complicated stunts showing their flexibility and athleticism, including basket tosses, double-downs and scorpions.
When asked if it was difficult to keep up their energy Saturday, Lessard said, “Not with a crowd like that,” pointing at the 50 student fans who showed up at Lewiston High School at 7:30 that morning to make the trip to Bangor.
“It’s exciting. It’s a lot of hard work, a lot of pushing them and getting them to believe that they were as good as I thought they were,” said Lewiston coach Lynnette Morency.
During warmups, it was clear that Lewiston had experienced tumblers on their team as the Blue Devils’ round-off backhand springs led into back tucks, layouts and full twists, abilities they showcased several times throughout their three-minute routine.
Surprisingly, the team had an injury-free season.
After five fliers were lifted into their second flawless pyramid, the Blue Devils’ excitement increased as they executed their final dance routine, moving to the beat, which could barely be heard above the roaring crowd. They knew they’d aced their routine. Their smiles were genuine.
“We’re going to keep working hard, keep pushing ourselves and see what happens at New Englands,” said captain Ashley Blauvelt.
Also competing on Lewiston’s 22-person team were: Abigail Campbell, Sam Hopkins, Heather Morin, Ashley Blauvelt, Morgan Gilbert, Jessica Bowen, Tiana Lacombe, Kara Barnies, Krista Thomas, Maddie Ide, Torey Reny, Kristy Beauchesne, Erin Morris, Abigail Madden, Adreena Adams, Taylor Pratt, Shae Godbout, Ashley Freve, Gabriella Rojas, Cassie Regner and Megan Larkin.
In Class D, Central Aroostook took everything up a notch. Captain Kyle Donahue, who stands a head taller than everyone else on the squad, kicked off the routine with a standing back tuck. The team continued to impress the crowd with difficult stunts such as scorpions, arabesques and a full down.
Donahue’s single-based stunt, in which he single-handedly elevated a flyer over his head, was a highlight of their routine.
“I had a feeling we would win, but you never know,” said Donahue, who’ has been on the squad all four of its winning years. “I want to congratulate the whole team. They made my senior year the best year ever.”
Some parts of the routine were shaky, and it wasn’t the Panthers’ best performance, according to coach Sami Allen, but the difficulty of their routine earned them the points they needed to win.
Central Aroostook not only broke a school record for being crowned state champions a fourth year in a row, they also broke a Class D state championship record for bringing home the crown a ninth time.
Though they’ve qualified to move on to the New England Championships, they don’t plan to travel to New Hampshire for the competition. They accomplished what they were aiming for, and toted their championship plaque to Bugaboo Creek Steak House in Bangor to celebrate.
Also competing on Central Aroostook’s 11-person team were Lexie Brewer, Whitney Klein, Kellie Stitham, Brittany Drost, Alexis Bradbury, Patricia Donovan, Gabe Brewer, Colby Endy, Laken Kingsbury, and Megan King.