BANGOR, Maine — When Ellsworth High School came onto the floor for Saturday afternoon’s final performance of the Eastern Maine Class B cheering championship at the Bangor Auditorium, the Eagles had no idea they had been presented with an edge.
The Hermon Hawks, the two-time defending state champions who performed just before the Eagles, had a misstep during the dismount of a lift early in their routine and would receive a severe deduction penalty for it.
The Eagles turned in a strong, clean performance and claimed their second straight East crown.
The Eagles, the final team to compete in the meet, defeated the Hawks 142.2 to 138.8.
Both teams will lead the top six from the east to the state meet on Feb. 9, also at the Bangor Auditorium. Twelve teams competed Saturday.
The other four schools to advance are Caribou and Presque Isle, which both posted scores of 134.3, John Bapst of Bangor (127.8) and Old Town (124.7).
“We didn’t tell them [of Hermon’s error],” said Courtney Taylor, co-head coach with Nikki Chan. “They were out in the hall waiting their turn.”
The Eagle coaches didn’t want their performers’ emotions to get too high by the news or for them to become tense by worrying about making a mistake of their own.
Instead, the Eagles used fire and energy to post a strong performance.
“They performed with the most confidence, the most energy” of the season, said Taylor.
“The team continuously impresses us with their motivation and drive,” said Chan.
Ellsworth had a couple of early lifts that weren’t going up together, but the Eagles overcame that as the routine continued. They turned in a strong performance on a pyramid near the end of the routine that was a key element to the title.
“They hit that pyramid like they never hit it before,” said Taylor.
The Hawks, who also lost to Ellsworth last year before winning the state title, also showed lots of energy in their performance, which included a lot of tumbling, and they were well synchronized. But they were hurt by the missed dismount that resulted in a stumbling finish to the stunt.
“That’s one she hits 99 times out of a hundred,” said Hermon coach Kristie Reed.
The top teams put in more difficult stunts and tumbles as their performers progress. That’s how they get to the top.
“If we can hit our routine, the degree of difficulty puts us in great position,” Reed said.
It also means a greater opportunity for error, but Reed is confident the Hawks will get it right for the state meet.
“I have no doubt that once we get back in the gym, they’ll hit it in two weeks,” she said.
The Hawks should expect another challenge from the Eagles.
“This season has been kinda rough,” said Taylor. “We started with 19, and they whittled themselves down to the 13 we have now.”
Ellsworth used 10 in the EM regional, including their four seniors — Cristin Wright, Heather Holt, Anna Jordan and Kat Dickens.
“The seniors are a great group of leaders,” she said. “They come in every day, work hard and do their best.”
The girls have all become good friends, too, according to Taylor. That has added to their bond on the floor.
“If they don’t trust each other, they can’t go out and do something like that,” she said, referring to the East championship — and a potential state title.
Members of the Ellsworth squad are: Heather Holt, Kat Dickens, Cristin Wright, Anna Jordan, Felicia Ridley, Emma Sweeney, Emily Bridges-Myrick, Kristy Eaton, Ashley Ballard, Marina Magee, Victoria Page Jackson, Brittani Moulton and Emily Lane.
Members of the Hawks are: Katie Reynosa, Catherine McElvain, Kiley Witham, Olivia Guiggey, Danielle Dennison, Kaitlinn Turner, Tiffany Tanner, Riley Wood, Sarah Perley, Marissa Cox, Erica Turmel, Baylie Dalton, Alivia Brown, Katrina Smith, Taylor Smith, Kailee Ouellette, Destinee Knight and Alexis Hake.
Final team scores: Ellsworth 142.2, Hermon 138.8, Caribou 134.3, Presque Isle 134.3, John Bapst 127.8, Old Town 124.7, Waterville 115.5, MDI 114.6, Mount View 108.4, Washington Acad. 100.7, Nokomis 96.6, Oceanside 84.5.
Correction: In a previous version of this story, Destinee Knight was left off the Hermon roster of cheerers.