AUGUSTA, Maine — The Central Aroostook of Mars Hill cheering squad not only maintained its status as the the state’s best Class D cheering squad Saturday, but did so in record-setting fashion at the Augusta Civic Center.
The Panthers became the first squad since the Maine Principals’ Association began sponsoring cheering competition in 1994 to win six consecutive state championships.
“I think they kind of knew,” said Central Aroostook co-coach Sami Jo Allen, who did not tell her team of the potential record before the meet. “We didn’t want to make them any more nervous. I didn’t want to do anything to jinx it so I didn’t even bring it up hardly at all to [fellow co-coach] Janice [Lyons]. I think she knew in her own way and I knew, and we just left it at that.”
The Panthers not only entered this year’s state final as the five-time defending champions, but also had won five in a row between 2008 and 2012 to bring their run to 11 state titles in the past 12 years.
Hermon also won five straight Class B state titles between 2011 and 2015.
“There was a lot of pressure on us because of that,” Central Aroostook senior Jillian Tweedie said, “but I think it just pushed us to do even better and want to do our best.”
Central Aroostook finished with 74.8 points, well ahead of second-place Penobscot Valley of Howland (66.5). Machias (53.8), Deer Isle-Stonington (52.5), Bangor Christian (52.4) and Woodland (51.6) rounded out the six-school field.
“Regionals was actually a better performance for us,” Lyons said. “We had a couple of bobbles today so we were a little nervous, but luckily we still came out on top.”
The Panthers may have compensated for any lapses in execution with the energetic nature of their performance after resting in Augusta on Friday night rather than make the 220-mile trip south early Saturday for their performance, which took place at approximately 10:30 a.m.
“The kids really brought it,” Allen said. “They were a little tired. Spending [Friday] night down here, I don’t know if that’s always a good thing for us or just traveling down here would be better. You never know.”
Members of the state champion Central Aroostook squad are Megan Brewer, Audree Burtt, Natalie Carson, Emma Fletcher, Gracie Giberson, Daisy Grant, Amy Gerritsen, Elizabeth Hotham, Madison Howlett, Mersaydez Johnston, Olivia Pelletier, Jenna Rusby, Jack Schafer, Janelle Tweedie and Jillian Tweedie.
Representing runner-up Penobscot Valley were Emma Buck, Paige Carter, Ainsley Hainer, Kiera Hatch, Isabella Heald, Maggie LeBlanc, Julianna Rogers, Indica Rosario, Makayla Sisco, Delaney Theriault, Kara Theriault and MacKenzie Thompson.
Penobscot Valley was awarded the MPA’s Class D Sportsmanship Award.