BANGOR, Maine — When the Central High School cheerleading team is performing, there are 20 girls dancing, jumping and tumbling around the mat.
While that means there is more potential for a catastrophic mistake, the Red Devils instead showed Saturday afternoon that there is strength in their considerable numbers.
Central of Corinth demonstrated energy, precision and overall cohesiveness while taking home the Eastern Maine Class C cheerleading championship at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.
The Red Devils racked up 127.4 points to register a comfortable victory over runner-up Narraguagus of Harrington, which scored 113.3 points, and third-place Houlton (109.8).
“So much could go wrong, but we practice so much,” said Central senior co-captain Melyssa Prescott.
“We have a lot of different stunts this year, like our waterfalls,” she added. “We use everyone in our pyramid and not a lot of teams do it.”
Sumner of East Sullivan (108.8), Orono (106.4) and Dexter (102.7) were the other three teams to earn spots in the state championships, which are scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 8, at the Augusta Civic Center.
The other scores were: Bucksport 101, Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln 99, Washington Academy of East Machias 90.5, Calais 87.9, Penquis of Milo 84, Lee Academy 83.8 and George Stevens Academy of Blue Hill 54.
More than 2,500 fans turned out to watch the day’s three competitions in Classes B, C and D.
Central, directed by co-coaches Cristy Strout and Whitney Susee, won the first regional cheering championship for the school since 2000. The Red Devils, who tuned up for the EM competition by winning the Penobscot Valley Conference crown a week earlier, will try to win their second state championship in three years.
Fielding a competitive squad of 20 is challenging for the Red Devils.
“To see 20 on the floor is amazing, but how many stunt groups you have to have is based on how many you have on the floor,” said Strout, who explained Central needs four.
“We’re going above and beyond to have five,” she added.
Central’s roster is led by a group of six seniors that includes co-captains Hillary Williams, Kassidy Chase and Prescott, along with classmates Cassidy McNerney and Billiie-Jo Hurd. Co-captain Autumn Preble, Elizabeth Wittine and Kailey Buswell are the juniors.
The Red Devils also feature a strong group of underclassmen that includes sophomores Kaitlyn Taylor, Kiera Rush, Kelsey Osnoe, Ciearria Cookson, Taylor Buswell and Katrina Bowden. The freshmen are Paige Subjoc, Jamie Smith, Janell Reece, Chelsea Noddin, Josie Hare, Alicia Halloran, Taylor Emerson and Rhianna Bailey.
Central was confident after a good effort at the PVC Championships.
“We wanted to come in with our heads high, but we didn’t want to come in cocky,” Williams said. “We just worked hard and knew that we had to fight for it; it wasn’t [going to be] given to us.”
Runner-up Narraguagus stepped up its performance against a stronger field after capturing the Downeast Athletic Conference crown.
Coach Melanie Omlor-Fox’s squad jumped around jubilantly upon completion of its routine, which procured the best-ever finish for a Knights cheerleading team.
“I think we all really worked hard to have our motions tight and our stunts hit solid,” said senior Bayley Ray-Smith. “We had a best-case scenario. Everything was unbelievable.”
Ray-Smith, Emily Grant and Anna Butler were the senior leaders on a squad that included juniors Dayna Smith, Maddison Peterson, Keeli Parker, Jennifer Mathews, Hayley Kafka, Desiree Grant and Dayna Barker.
Sophomores Sydney Robinson, Courtney Kafka, Paige Dorr and Kayla Dinsmore, along with freshman Dakota McGuire, also contributed to the effort.
“We compete against Class D (schools) in our conference, so it’s a little bit different (at regionals),” Omlor-Fox said. “This is where our real competition is and we knew that coming into it.”
Houlton, the 2011 Class C state champion, edged Sumner for third place. The Shiretowners are coached by Renae Foley and Michelle Sullivan.
Team members are — seniors: Jessica Thorne and Emily Dee; juniors: Morgan Wotton, Caleigh Sullivan, Jennah Rand, Autumn London, Hayley Flewelling, Emily Dickison and Jackie Condon; sophomores: Kathryn Knights, Abigail Fore and Taylor Barnes; freshmen: Rachel Toupin, Tessa Roshto, Taylor Reed, Megan McLaughlin, Hannah Jacobs, Mackenzie Hunt, Lexi Fore, Hannah Foley, Sarah Delano, Medinah Diane and Chloe Davis.