The competitive season for high school cheering kicks into high gear Saturday with regional meets at the Bangor Auditorium and Augusta Civic Center.
Eastern Maine classes B and C and the combined Eastern and Western Class D will converge on Bangor, while the Eastern A and Western A, B and C divisions will compete in Augusta.
The top six teams from both the East and West in classes A, B and C advance to the state championship meet to be held Feb. 12 in Augusta, as will the top six teams from combined East-West Class D qualifier.
Lewiston (Class A), Hermon (Class B), Houlton (Class C) and Central Aroostook of Mars Hill (Class D) are the defending state championships.
Lewiston is in search of its fifth state championship in the last 10 years, but is coming off a narrow victory over Bangor at the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A championships earlier this month.
The Blue Devils scored 150.8 points to edge runner-up Bangor by three points, with Hampden Academy (124.4) third and Lawrence of Fairfield (110.7) and Mt. Blue of Farmington (109.4) rounding out the top five.
The Eastern A meet, scheduled for 6:40 p.m., caps off the day of regional competition in Augusta. It begins at 9 a.m. with the Western C meet, followed by Western A at 11:45 a.m. and Western B at 3:15 p.m.
Saturday’s Bangor Auditorium schedule has Eastern B at 9 a.m., East-West D at 12:05 p.m. and Eastern C at 3:10 p.m.
Hermon is the defending Class B state champion and will be seeking its third state crown in the last six years. The Hawks are coming off a victory at the Big East Conference championships where they scored 139.8 points to edge second-place Ellsworth (134.4). John Bapst of Bangor (122.3), Old Town (118.0) and Presque Isle (116.6) completed the top five finishers.
Houlton won its first state title since 2006 last year, but has a strong cheering tradition with additional recent state championships in 2002 — in Class B — and 2004.
The Shiretowners earlier this month won the Penobscot Valley Conference small school championship, totaling 128.9 points to edge Central of Corinth by one-tenth of a point. Orono (120.3), Sumner of East Sullivan (117.3) and Dexter (111.10) also finished in the top five.
Central Aroostook will seek to continue its dominance of Class D, as the Panthers last year became just the second school to win four consecutive state championships in cheering. They joined Monmouth Academy, which won four straight Class D crowns between 1998 and 2001.
Central Aroostook not only has won the last four regionals and state championships, it has won eight state titles overall.
Camden Hills wins sportsmanship award
The Camden Hills of Rockport football team was recognized for its sportsmanship before Tuesday night’s boys basketball game between the Windjammers and Medomak Valley of Waldoboro.
The team was presented the 2011 Maurice “Doc” Rancourt Memorial Award from the Waterville chapter of the Maine Association of Football Officials.
The award is based on a rating system concerning sportsmanship compiled by officials from that chapter after each game they work during the regular season.
Camden Hills received a perfect score for the four games it played that were officiated by the Waterville chapter, according to Chris Perry, the Waterville chapter’s game assigner who was on hand to make the presentation.
The Windjammers finished the 2011 season with an 0-8 record.
Nine schools are covered by the Waterville chapter: Camden Hills, Lawrence of Fairfield, Madison-Carrabec, Maine Central Institute of Pittsfield, Messalonskee of Oakland, Mount View of Thorndike, Skowhegan, Waterville and Winslow.