AUGUSTA — Saturday was just another building block in the championship pyramid for Lewiston cheerleading.
Five days after pocketing their fifth straight KVAC title, the Blue Devils bagged a fourth consecutive Eastern Class A crown on the same Augusta Civic Center floor.
Lewiston now chases its third state championship in succession Feb. 9 at Bangor Auditorium. Then, in March, comes a shot at a second New England title in Lawrence, Mass.
And if you need a number to complete the arithmetic progression, well, there’s no question about who’s No. 1 in the sport around here.
“We have the pressure on us,” said senior co-captain Kara Barnies, “but I think we thrive off it.”
The Devils’ score of 161.4 points on a scale of 175 was six better than its KVAC prelude and only two beneath the team’s 2012 state championship threshold.
“I just said improve to Saturday. Your goal is to get a higher score. And if you don’t, don’t let it get in your head,” Lewiston coach Lynnette Morency said. “We had a very, confident, positive, hard-working week. I said to them coming in, just have fun.”
Runner-up Bangor finished seven points back.
Edward Little (fourth) and Oxford Hills (fifth) joined Brewer (third) and Hampden (sixth) in qualifying for the state meet. The top six teams from each region earned that distinction.
Title defenses were the rule. In addition to the career grand slam for Lewiston’s seniors, Lisbon made it back-to-back championships in Western Class C. Medomak Valley ruled Western Class B for the third year in a row.
Despite all the decor in its trophy case, Lewiston wasn’t afraid to make a dramatic change and separate itself from that recent tradition. The Devils decided to change choreographers this year, turning over the music and dance portion of its program to a duo from California.
“I felt like it was time for a change. The guy we had before obviously was doing a good job,” Morency said. “As far as the girls, I just thought they needed a fresh change to shake it up a bit. I don’t think we necessarily look any different than we usually do.”
Five seniors and five juniors give Lewiston ample ties to last winter’s dream team.
Winning never loses its appeal or its excitement, though. After the initial collective shout when the public address announcer declared the Devils champions once again, there was a second shriek when Morency leaned in and told the team its score.
“A lot of our scores went up,” senior co-captain Kirsty Beauchesne said. “We’re just getting the showmanship up and looking like we’re having fun doing it, because we are.”
“We came off a really good performance at KVACs,” Barnies added. “We had good practice all week, and we came in and did what we needed to do. We’re happy with our performance.”
Lewiston was accompanied to the capital city by its rabid fans, more than 40 of whom were lined up outside the locked doors of the civic center at 5 a.m. — eight hours before the team was scheduled to perform.
“They were upset at KVACs because a few fans from another school were here before them,” Morency said. “They’re insane. We couldn’t do it without them.”
Lisbon rewarded its loyal spectators with a one-sided victory in Class C.
The MVC champions backed up those credentials with a score of 128.3. Monmouth was second with 110.4. It was a jump of more than 15 points from the conference to the regional meet for the Greyhounds.
“We tell them to stay strong and keep working hard. You can never think that you’re working hard enough,” Lisbon coach Kristina Doughty said. “I just ask them to do nothing more than they would do at practice. This is just a big practice arena, so relax, have fun and go hard.”
Lisbon achieved its encore with a younger team this season. Six seniors led the way.
“Everybody wants it. Everybody works their hardest and we all love one another, and this is so great,” co-captain Miranda Carroll said. “We have our ups and downs, but in the end it all works out and comes together in the competition.”
“The adrenaline rush is crazy,” added Gabby Ouellette, also a captain. “It pushes us.”
In addition to perennial state qualifier Monmouth, fellow MVC schools Madison, St. Dom’s and Dirigo also advanced to the next level along with Traip.
Medomak outlasted the competition in a Class B meet that saw all the top contenders have at least one bobbled stunt.
The Panthers appeared to have two major miscues midway through the program, but persistence and the intricacy of their routine paid dividends.
“That certainly was not the best performance those kids have ever had,” Medomak coach Rachel Coor said. “There were tears coming off the floor. They do have a lot of difficulty in the tumbling especially, so even if unfortunately there is a fall, the difficulty makes up for it.”
Of the 15 cheerleaders on the floor for the Panthers, all but three were freshmen or sophomores.
Jessie Prescott and Kelsie Grady are the lone seniors. A third, Charlene Wilbur, is injured.
“At the end of last year, we didn’t have a great performance at states and fell apart after,” Coor said. “We talked a lot about keeping it together and coming back strong if something doesn’t go right, and I think they actually did that.”
Medomak (131.4) edged Wells (129.9) in the closest battle of the day. Gardiner was third. Leavitt, Poland and Morse also punched their tickets to the state showcase.