BANGOR, Maine — After finishing a disappointing third in the Penobscot Valley Conference Class C cheering competition in their home gym last weekend, head coach Carly Cropley and her Mattanawcook Academy girls from Lincoln made some changes to their routine in preparation for Saturday’s C North regional at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.
And they certainly paid off.
The MA girls racked up 68.3 points to capture their first regional title since 1999.
PVC champ Central of Corinth was second with 66.5 points and will accompany MA to the state Class C championships in Bangor on Feb. 10 along with the other teams that finished in the top six: Sumner of East Sullivan (65.5), Houlton (64.2), Calais (54.3) and Orono (53.1).
The other four teams that competed were Bucksport (50.7), Penquis of Milo (43.6), Lee Academy (43.3) and Dexter (41).
“We added a bunch of stuff that was more advanced and more sturdy. We knew we had to add that in if we really wanted to come out on top,” said MA sophomore Kelsey Bryan. “To go from third (in the PVCs) to this high is just incredible.
“This is the best we’ve ever done. It was definitely an excellent routine,” added Bryan.
“We stuck everything in our stunts,” said junior Sarah Hanington. “This is indescribable.”
Senior Mariah Smith said they particularly focused on their pyramid.
“We made the pyramid a little more difficult and we started nailing it during the week,” said Smith. “We dropped it in warmups but we got back up and tried it again and nailed it and we came out here (during our routine) and nailed it. It’s a great feeling.”
Cropley said they got some great feedback at the PVCs and put it to use.
“We laid it all out. We figured out what was going to be important to take us to the top this week,” explained Cropley. “We had a goal. We were aiming for five to six (more) points to take us where we needed to be and I was blown away that we had a 13- to 14-point increase.
“That was pretty amazing. It let me know we made the right moves,” said Cropley.
Senior Mindy Davis said their third-place finish at the PVCs definitely served as extra motivation.
“We did our best at the PVCs but the outcome wasn’t what we wanted,” said Davis.
The team has been resilient over the course of the season, according to Davis.
“We lost a lot of people to sickness and to not being able to stay on the team so we had our doubts about winning and going to the states. But we did it,” said Davis.
Cropley said she knew her girls nailed their routine.
“I could feel it in my bones,” said Cropley, a former MA cheerleader (Carly Mansur) who graduated from the school in 2001.
The members of the Mattanawcook Academy team include Bryan, Davis, Smith, Hanington, Theresa Adams, Hannah Bean, Caitlyn Beyenberg, Hillary Bubar, Emily Fiske, Ainsley Hainer, Hailey McReavy, Marissa Muncey, Kelly Nadeau, Madeline Noble, Lexi Pelkey, Esther Susen, Kourtney Thurlow and Ashley Wilkins.
Central coach Cristy Strout said she and her girls were a little disappointed not to win but she praised the performance by MA and said she felt her team also performed well.
“They have come a long way in the last few years. I’m very happy for them,” said Strout.
Strout said they lost one their tumblers, Anna Helstrom, due to a broken hand suffered in practice two days ago, “so we had to rearrange our formations and tumbling.”
“We had some bobbles in our stunts we don’t normally have but after watching the videotape, it was good, it was cleaner than I thought,” said Strout. “Our score went up 6 1/2 points from the PVCs.”
Her team is composed of Helstrom, Katlynn Bean, Brianna Butler, Megan Cormier, Emily Cunningham, Maddie Demoranville, Emma Frost, Faith Fugel, Kylie Graffam, Cassidy Gray, Megan Hathaway, Whitney Larson, Brooke Lunt, Heather MacNevin, Riese Mansfield, Tabitha McClure, Tiana McDougall, Mary Miller, Montana Pennington, Jaeden Viani and Danielle Williams.