Central Aroostook High School of Mars Hill claimed its seventh straight Class D state cheerleading championship on Saturday evening by edging Penobscot Valley High School of Howland at the Augusta Civic Center.
It was the 12th state title in 13 years for the Panthers, who scored 74.6 points. The Howlers tallied 72.1 points, while Bangor Christian (62.9), Woodland (52) and Penquis of Milo (51.6) rounded out the top five.
The other competitors were Lee Academy (47.5), Machias (47.5) and Wiscasset (41.6).
“We’ve had to go through a lot of obstacles these last few weeks,” said Central Aroostook co-coach Sami Jo Allen. “We had to change some things. We had to move some of our stunts forward a little bit and took one stunt sequence out to make [our routine] better.”
She also said that senior cheerleader Jack Schafer wasn’t able to perform to his abilities in practice the past couple of days due to illness “but he really brought it today.”
Schafer said the team changed approximately 75 percent of its routine between regionals and states but they were able to still pull it off with lots of practice.
“We nailed it today. We couldn’t have done it any better,” he said.
“We’ve changed everything,” Central Aroostook senior Mersaydez Johnston said. “We wanted to come out with a brand-new routine and blow everybody away.”
Penobscot Valley coach Wendy Clark-Thurlow said her team overcome some challenges to turn in an impressive performance.
“We performed without deduction after a real rough couple of weeks with a bout of influenza,” said Clark-Thurlow, whose team scored 8.8 points higher than the regional. “We didn’t get practices due to the weather and [a school lockdown].
“I’m very happy with how we did,” she added. “We were within 2.5 points of Central Aroostook. We’re getting closer every year.”
Penobscot Valley cheerleader Indica Rosario echoed her coach’s sentiment.
“We hit everything. There were no deductions. We couldn’t ask for a better way to end the season,” Rosario said.
Central Aroostook’s team, in addition to Schafer and Johnston, includes Gracie Bailey, Megan Brewer, Katie Carvell, Gracie Giberson, Elizabeth Hotham, Madison Howlett, Anna Kilcollins, Delaney McKeen, Riley Prince, Jenna Rusby, Allysa Tilley and Janelle Tweedie.
Janice Lyons is the Panthers’ other co-coach.
Penobscot Valley’s team includes Emma Buck, Paige Carter, Jadyn Frenette, Rachel Hanson, Kiera Hatch, Isabella Heald, Emily King, Maggie LeBlanc, Matilkynn McNally, Allison Morton, Delaney Theriault, Kara Theriault, MacKenzie Thompson and Rosario.