When Oxford Hills of South Paris edged Bangor High School by two-tenths of a point to win Monday’s Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A cheering championship in Augusta, it also marked a battle for family bragging rights.
Oxford Hills coach Deb Loveless was the winner in this instance as she not only guided the Vikings to their first conference title since 2008 but in the process edged a Bangor team coached by her daughter, Kate Robichaud.
There is a good chance the two won’t be talking too much shop as the teams prepare for Saturday’s Class A North championship.
“Absolutely not,” Robichaud joked. “She gets no help from me.”
The Class A North and South and Class B and Class C South regionals will be held at the Augusta Civic Center, while the Class B and Class C North and Class D North/South regionals are set for the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.
Competition in Bangor begins with Class B North at 9 a.m., followed by Class D at 11:15 and Class C North at 1:45 p.m.
Class B South will open the competition in Augusta at 9 a.m., followed by Class A North at 11:30, Class C South at 2:30 p.m. and Class A South at 5.
The top six teams from each regional in classes A, B and C will advance to the state championships on Feb. 8 at the Augusta Civic Center along with six teams from Class D or eight if more than 10 schools compete at that combined regional.
The Class A North competition will involve the same schools that vied for the KVAC Class A crown, meaning that Oxford Hills and Bangor should be among the primary contenders.
Bangor captured its first state championship two years ago and placed second behind Biddeford last winter.
“We have eight seniors, a number of them who were on the state championship team two years ago, and just two freshmen so I would say we have a seasoned team,” said Robichaud, whose team is seeking its third straight Class A North title.
“I would say there are high expectations, for sure. When you’re younger you don’t really know what you’re getting into, but I would say the stress level is high.”
A couple of falls hindered Bangor’s bid to win the KVAC Class A crown, but Robichaud is optimistic her team will peak at regionals and states.
“We definitely have work to do,” she said. “Especially with not having a great performance on Monday, there’s room for improvement on Saturday. But you never know.”
Hermon has dominated Class B cheering, winning eight of the last nine state championships.
But the Hawks are fielding a youthful roster this year and rival Ellsworth hopes to challenge that dominance and dethrone Hermon from the regional title ranks for the first time since 2016.
While Hermon is younger, coach Kristie Reed’s squad also is talented, having edged Ellsworth by 1.2 points to win the Big East Conference title earlier this month. The Hawks then topped the Eagles again last Saturday to capture the Penobscot Valley Conference Class B crown.
Presque Isle placed third and John Bapst fourth in the PVC Class B field.
Medomak Valley of Waldoboro is the nine-time defending Class B South champion, but the Panthers will have to rebound from a second-place finish behind Leavitt of Turner Center at the KVAC Class B championship after losing one of their team members to a broken hand the day before the conference meet.
Medomak finished third behind first-place Hermon and Ellsworth at last year’s states.
Sumner of East Sullivan is coming off victories at the Downeast Athletic Conference and PVC Class B championships, and the Tigers now hope to parlay that success into regional prominence.
Perennial contender Central of Corinth — the 2018 state champion and third at states last year — and Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln loom among the other top challengers in Class C North after placing second and third at the PVCs.
Central Aroostook has been the class of Class D for more than a decade, winning 11 of the last 12 state championships.
The Panthers last winter became the first team to win six straight state championships regardless of class since the MPA held its first state cheering competition in 1994 and are off to a fast start again this year with another Aroostook League crown already to its credit.