The Lewiston High School cheering program has been winning so convincingly for so long that style points matter.
And therefore, the celebration was a little bit restrained Monday after the Blue Devils won the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A championship at the Augusta Civic Center.
Of course, some of that is because the KVAC crown — Lewiston’s sixth straight — is a low rung on the Devils’ ladder of annual goals.
Lewiston will defend its Eastern Class A championship in the same auditorium Saturday afternoon.
Farther down the line, there is the not-so-small matter of chasing a fourth consecutive state title and third New England championship in a row.
“I don’t think we’ve ever felt as much pressure as this year,” Lewiston coach Lynnette Morency said. “I have a very young team. It’s a lot of pressure to be in this program. Some of the kids handle it better than others. But we’re going to get there.”
Lewiston finished with 148.3 of a possible 175 points. Runner-up Bangor checked in at 143.8. Oxford Hills of South Paris was a distant third at 118.8.
“It was an ugly win, but it was a win,” Morency said. “I don’t think we’ve ever scored that low here.”
Gardiner (128 points) won a closely contested Class B meet over Medomak Valley of Waldoboro (123.2) and Leavitt (122.3).
The Blue Devils were satisfied with their improvement from the annual Kora Temple Shriners meet at their own gym on Jan. 10.
“We never do well in that one,” Morency said.
“It was a lot tighter and cleaner today,” co-captain Cassie Regner said. “We didn’t have any touchdowns or anything.”
Eight of Lewiston’s 22 cheerleaders are freshmen, and six are sophomores.
Although the Blue Devils’ middle school program has enjoyed similar success in recent years, those cheerleaders face an obvious adjustment when competing at the varsity level.
“I do feel that the pressure is a lot higher on us this year,” said Abby Madden, also a team captain. “It’s good for us to get that challenge.”
Morency said she was somewhat mystified by the relatively low scores, but she called the assessments fair.
“The judging is very tough this year,” Morency said. “But it’s consistent. It’s low across the board. I have no problem with that. Sometimes in the past I think the scores have been higher than they should be at this point in the season.”
In addition to the overall youth, injuries have slowed Lewiston’s progress somewhat.
The Devils will take Tuesday off from practice before ramping up for regionals. Monday’s lower benchmarks give them a good idea of where improvement is needed.
“I feel like we maybe were a little flat,” Regner said. “We need to come out and have more fun with our routine.”