AUGUSTA, Maine — When your prevailing music themes of “queens” and “royalty” are apparent from the first strains of your performance at the state cheerleading championships, you had better be prepared to back it up.
As is customary for Central Aroostook of Mars Hill, the Panthers had the skill, spirit, stunts and somersaulting to match, earning a record-smashing Class D championship Saturday at Augusta Civic Center.
Central Aroostook’s successful title defense is its seventh championship in Class D and eighth overall, breaking the “D” record and tying the all-classes mark. Monmouth set both existing standards between 1994 and 2002.
“We look to be different from everybody else,” Central Aroostook coach Sami Allen said. “That’s our goal.”
It wasn’t close. The Panthers put up a score of 117.6 for a winning margin of more than 15 points that was easily the largest of the four-class showcase.
Bangor Christian was second with 102.2 points, followed by Penobscot Valley of Howland (100.3), Fort Fairfield (100), Deer Isle-Stonington (89.3), Machias (87.8) and Buckfield (83.8).
The Panthers prevailed on the strength of stunts that were more complex than those of the opposition. Central Aroostook’s four-pyramid sequences would have put the team in contention in Class C as well.
Allen wasn’t sure her team had another title run in them after an early January exhibition meet. Sanctioned by the Maine Cheerleading Coaches’ Association, it was the first time eight freshmen ever performed in front of judges in a high school competition.
“If you could have seen us, you would have said we were a hot mess,” Allen said. “It was dedication, I guess. A couple weeks ago, we were very unhealthy. We had a stunt (Saturday) that still didn’t go, but I’ve told the girls many times, whatever happens, you’ve got to keep going.”
Central Aroostook’s success has been a snowball effect. Younger girls see the high school program’s championship glory and aspire to become part of it.
The Panthers have 20 girls on their team, more than double what most Class D teams are able to put on the floor. By comparison, Deer Isle-Stonington performed its routine Saturday with four cheerleaders.
“It’s amazing. Janice (Mosher, assistant coach) and I were talking one time and said, ‘We’ll never have 18 or 20 girls.’ We finally do have 20,” Allen said. “It’s been hard, because you have to watch everybody individually, and it’s hard to get everybody in sync at the same time. Usually we only have two to three stunt groups, and this year we have three to four, so it’s hard getting all the groups doing the same thing at the same time.”
Central Aroostook team members are Victoria Brewer, Dayna Collins, Courtney Milliard, Jordan Canney, Shannon Scully, Whitnie Bradbury, Elizabeth Gillen, Noelle Bailey, Sheratin Kelly, Holly O’Leary, Hunter Nicholson, Sarah Sargent, Michaela Pelletier, Keara McCrum, Sarah Gerritson, Halee Rusby, Emilee Durost, Taia Tilley, Lillie Mahan and Chloe Wheeler.