BREWER, Maine — The Brewer Witches have had a fresh spring in their step this week as they prepared for Saturday’s Eastern Maine Class A regional cheering championships.
The Witches posted a fourth-place performance at the KVAC Class A championships Monday, earning the Jamie Beth Shible Award as the squad that showed the most improvement in score, by percentage, over last year’s performance. Medomak Valley of Waldoboro won in Class B.
The Eastern Maine Class A championships, which basically will be a rerun of the KVAC meet, will be joined at the Augusta Civic Center by the Western Maine Classes A, B and C teams. Class B competition starts at 9 a.m., followed by EM Class A at 12:10 p.m. The afternoon session has Class C opening at 3:30 p.m., with WM Class A going at 6:10 p.m.
The EM Classes B and C and statewide Class D will be held at the Bangor Auditorium starting with Class C competition at 9 a.m. Class D competition starts at 11:35 a.m., and Class B begins at 2:35 p.m.
“They have been very confident this week,” said coach Nancy Snowdeal about her Witches. Snowdeal is in her first year as the varsity coach after having been the JV coach last year.
The Witches’ confidence is over and above the attitude they have shown all season, said Snowdeal.
“They’re not only confident, but they’re really supportive of each other,” she said.
That supportiveness has been a help to Snowdeal.
“This group understands it’s important to work as a team,” said Snowdeal, as well as what they’re trying to accomplish. The seniors are helping the younger team members push toward those goals.
“I’m not the one who has to do all the motivating,” Snowdeal said.
The increased points, from 98.6 in last year’s KVACs to 125.9 on Monday, has come from doing more stunts and tumbling.
“The girls have a lot of confidence in their stunting,” said Snowdeal. “And we have more [stunt] groups, which adds a lot [to the routine].”
Routines at KVACs, for instance, are limited to three minutes in duration. A team usually will work out a routine at the beginning of the season and stick with it, making only minor adjustments or just sharpening the way the various parts are performed.
With the work the Witches have done since the KVACs, Snowdeal sees a chance to move up to third, but catching two-time defending state champion Lewiston or KVAC runner-up Bangor at the regional will be extremely difficult.
Lewiston performs a lot of well-developed tumbles and stunts to pile up points, 155 in the case of Monday’s KVAC victory. Bangor was at 144.7.
“A 20-point difference is a huge, huge gap,” said Snowdeal of the ground her team would have to make up just to catch the Rams, let alone the Blue Devils.
“And it’s not that the girls aren’t working hard,” she said. It’s just that they haven’t all yet reached the same level of experience and skill as some of the top squads.
Some teams can’t risk performing more difficult stunts because each stunt is expected to go up and come down in unison by all of a team’s groups, which generally range from two on the smaller teams up to five on the biggest teams.
Brewer used 19 performers at the KVACs — seniors Haley Bickford, Ivy Carl, Allison Cote, Ashley Howland, Alexis Ireland and Hunter Spencer; juniors Kaitlyn Spencer and Nicole Vieira; sophomores Katherine Bryant, Sedona Cottrell, Breannah Geiser, Marissa Gould, Kyra Johnson, Kayla Mayo and Taylor Richardson; and freshmen Julia DiFrederico, Moriah Newcomb, Ember Perry and Alexis Wood. Lewiston had 20 and Bangor and third-place Edward Little of Auburn each had 22.
Having more stunt groups doesn’t automatically improve a team’s score, though.
“It’s what you’re doing with them,” said Snowdeal. “Lewiston is a very talented group. We have some kids who are getting there, but they’re not all there yet.”
The Witches do have a long-term goal.
“Our program is building back to what it used to be,” said Snowdeal.
Brewer won the state Class A championship in 2007. Doing that this year will be difficult, but the Witches are confident they can at least advance to the state championships.
“I think our chances are pretty good,” said Snowdeal. “We’ve made some improvements. It’s a matter of cleaning it up and selling it, showing the excitement we have.”