One was fun, but twice is doubly nice.
Lewiston High School cheerleading successfully defended its championship Saturday morning at the New England Interscholastic Spirit Championship in Lawrence, Mass.
Maine schools went one-two in the competition. Lewiston’s score of 188 points easily outdistanced Marshwood’s 181.1.
“It was even better than states,” Lewiston coach Lynnette Morency said. “I told them, ‘Put it in the judges’ faces.’ We got a little sloppy in a few places, but that was just from the excitement.”
Lewiston also won its third consecutive Class A state championship in February.
In 2012, the Blue Devils became the first team from Maine to win the New England competition.
Nine other schools competed with Lewiston and Marshwood in the Division I section of the meet.
“We felt confident that if we did [close to] a perfect routine that we had a good chance of winning,” said Kirsty Beauchesne, one of Lewiston’s two senior co-captains along with Kara Barnies.
“It’s awesome to have the top two teams be from Maine and to show that Maine is the best in New England,” Barnies added.
Experience was on the Devils’ side.
When Beauchesne and Barnies were sophomores, Lewiston finished second in the New England competition by eight-tenths of a point.
They grew from that experience to reign supreme a year ago. The pressure of performing in front of unknown judges and unfamiliar schools is no longer a shock to the system.
“It’s always anxious going into the competition, but they were very relaxed,” Morency said. “They had a great week of practice and went out and did a great job. They looked like they were having fun.”
Asked which of the two titles is sweeter, neither co-captain hesitated to say the latest one.
“I think this one is a lot more exciting because it was my last performance as a Lewiston High School cheerleader, and I wanted it to be the best,” Beauchesne said. “It shows that the first time wasn’t luck. It wasn’t a fluke.”
Barnies said that her career flashed before her eyes, in a way, as she took the floor.
“I knew it was the last performance of my career,” she said. “I started cheering 11 years ago. I wanted to go out on top with these girls my senior year.”
Lewiston is known at the state level for its high-risk, high-reward routines.
The Devils realized that they couldn’t afford any major, visible mistakes or dropped stunts, and Morency said there were none.
“I’m their toughest critic,” the coach noted. “We had a couple of small tumbling issues, but I would rather see that than have it all come crashing to the floor.”
“I agree with Coach that this was our best performance,” Beauchesne said. “We had really good energy. We just put it all together.”
Twenty-three teams competed in two classifications. Lewiston had to wait through six more performances after its own before scores were announced and awards were presented.
By then, however, the Devils were at peace.
“I had good vibes,” Barnies said. “The performance felt good.”
Shrewsbury (Mass.) High School placed third with 177 points.
Marshwood’s finish is the highest ever by a Maine team other than Lewiston.
“It shows how competitive our state is to go down there and take first and second,” Beauchesne said. “I’m so proud of Marshwood.”
Lewiston cheering is the first team from the school to win multiple New England championships in any sport. Hockey took the six-state crown in 1976.