BANGOR, Maine — Dexter High School cheerleader and senior tri-captain Harley Ponte said a state championship wasn’t something she had on her mind entering the season.
“I never felt we would do it. We’re a tiny team. But at least we’d love each other and we’d try our hardest. Hopefully, we would accomplish something to be proud of ourselves,” admitted Ponte.
But that camaraderie and work ethic enabled the Tigers to hoist their first-ever state championship as they compiled 129.3 points to outdistance Sumner High of East Sullivan in the Class C event Monday night at the Bangor Auditorium.
A large crowd braved the snowy conditions as all four classes crowned state champs after Saturday’s meets were postponed.
Sumner finished with 122.9 points and Lisbon was third with 120.
The Class D title was captured by the Deer Isle-Stonington Mariners, who edged Central Aroostook of Mars Hill by 2.4 points ( 117.4-115). Bangor Christian was third with 102.6 points. It was the Mariners’ first state crown in 28 years.
In Class C, Houlton was fourth with 116.9 points and rounding out the top five was Orono with 112.9. Bucksport was sixth (109.6), followed by Monmouth (109.5), Central of Corinth (106.6), Madison (103.9), St. Dominic of Auburn (101.1) and Dirigo of Dixfield (89.9).
Traip Academy of Kittery elected not to participate due to the snowy conditions, according to Maine Principals’ Association Executive Director Dick Durost.
Machias was fourth in Class D with 101.7 points, followed by Penobscot Valley of Howland (98.3), Washburn (98.2), Jonesport-Beals (94.5) and Buckfield (94.3).
Dexter cheerleader and senior tri-captain David McKusick said his team’s performance Monday night wasn’t its best.
“We had a couple of mistakes,” said McKusick. “But I think our energy really showed to the judges. They looked past our mistakes and saw the fun performance we put on.”
McKusick felt his team had a legitimate shot to win the title.
“We knew it was a big competition but we knew we were one of the best teams,” McKusick said.
“It definitely wasn’t our best,” said Dexter tri-captain Aaliyah Williams. “But we hit all of our stunts without any major flaws. That’s what we were worried about.”
“It feels amazing to be a state champion,” said Ponte, who was sporting a tender ankle.
Third-year coach Kacie Ladd said, “I can’t believe it.
“They performed well. I noticed some little things but there weren’t any huge mistakes,” said Ladd. “They hit everything. I was so proud of them. They had a lot of energy. They knew they were going to have to bring a good show and sell it and that’s what they did.”
Ladd said she knew the scores were going to be close.
“Sumner is so strong. And they had a clean performance. It could have been anyone’s,” said Ladd.
Sumner coach Courtney Briggs was pleased with her team’s performance.
“They did really well. This is the best the team has performed in front of a large crowd this season,” said Briggs.
Joining McKusick, Williams and Ponte on the Dexter team were Ansalewit Laughton, Mackenzie McKusick, Danielle Whitten, Shayna Fogg, Madison Provost, Sarah Vigue, Alex Wulf, Stacey Allen, Laurel Desmarais, Airiell KNowlton, Katelyn Morgan, Phoebe Phillips, Emmitt Ross and Autumn Young.
Sumner’s cheerleaders were Lexi Tracey, Whitney Ranco, Sarah Young, Cynthia Stewart, Olivia Driver, Cassidy Andrews, Katrina Hayward, Hannah Fleming, Annie O’Hara, Emily Martin, Aiyla Petty and Emma Fitzgerald.
Deer-Isle Stonington coach Kimberley Larsen guided Deer Isle-Stonington to its first state title in the first year of varsity competition.
“We been runners-up a number of times (since then),” she said. “These are true athletes. We have a lot of seniors and they wanted it so bad.”
She said her team’s technical performance wasn’t its best “but it was very, very spirited. We have performed our routine better but it was more spirited than ever.”
“It’s good to go out our senior year with a state championship,” said Mariner cheerleader Amber Jones. “We’ve done better but it was good enough.”
“We messed up a few things but we didn’t let it bring us down. We fought through it,” said Mariner cheerleader Sarah Burgess.
Central Aroostook sophomore cheerleader Courtney Milliard said her team turned in an “awesome” performance.
“We did the best we could do,” said Miller.
The Deer Isle-Stonington cheerleaders, in addition to co-captains Jones and Burgess, was comprised of Tessa Bray, Marissa Donovan, Sarah Wilson, Paige Rollins, Alicia Allen, Belle Merritt, Sarah Eaton, Stephanie Siebert, Danielle Poiwers and Kennady Eaton. They had seven seniors.
Central Aroostook’s cheerleaders were Milliard, Shannon Scully, Alexis Bradbury, Laken Kingsbury, Alexis Brewer, Brittney Drost, Colby Endy, Jordan Canney, Elizabeth Gillen, Rae Brewer, Tucker Fletcher, Hailey Isabelle, Brooke Cyr, Dayna Collins, Noelle Bakley and Victoria Brewer.
They are coached by Sami Allen.