BANGOR, Maine — Tears were flowing as the Old Town cheering squad accepted the Class B North championship plaque at the Cross Insurance Center late Saturday morning.

For coaches Nicole Hogan and Emily Smith, bringing a title back to their alma mater fostered a celebration many years in the making.

“It feels like a long time coming and a lot of hard work,” said Hogan after the Coyotes secured their first regional crown since 2002. “We’ve coached a lot of these kids since middle school, and after eighth grade we came up with them so we’ve coached them for six or seven years.”

Old Town used a clean, energetic three-minute routine combining tumbling, stunts, jumps and dance to total 76.4 points and edge two-time defending regional champion and five-time reigning Class B state champion Hermon by a single point.

“Every week we go out and try our very best and I think today was no exception to that,” said Old Town senior Julia Van Steenberghe, one of 10 competitors back from last year when the Coyotes captured the sixth and final berth from Eastern Maine in the state championships.

“The strength we were working on this week was confidence. We went out there and tried our best and we were really excited. Everyone has so much fun when we’re out there.”

Joining Van Steenberghe on the Old Town roster are classmates Emma Cyr, Makayla Morey, Zoe Swett, Kaleigh Bickford and Tara Roy, juniors Jordan Merchant, Julie Miller, Casey Pratt and Brianna Hogan, sophomores Lexi Carey, Kelsee Steele and Kaylee Bellavance and freshmen Melanie Soucy, Kaili Lupinacci, Lacy Ouellette and Faith Watson.

Ellsworth, which had to stop in the middle of its routine after one of its competitors suffered a bloody nose, was just one-tenth of a point behind Hermon at 75.3 as the the top three schools in the division continued their season-long battle for supremacy.

So far Old Town holds the upper hand, also scoring narrow victories over Hermon and Ellsworth at the Big East and Penobscot Valley Conference meets that preceded Saturday’s meet.

“These teams are so close and have done such a great job getting to this place so it definitely makes it interesting,” said Hermon coach Kristie Reed.

Old Town, Hermon and Ellsworth will be joined by John Bapst of Bangor (66.7), Presque Isle (65.9) and Mount View of Thorndike (59.3) representing the North at the Class B state championships, scheduled for Feb. 6 at the CIC.

Hermon’s bid for the regional title was hindered by a deduction of three penalty points for illegally touching the ground while completing flips in an effort to maintain balance.

“Honestly, yes in the end the three points were killers, but I don’t think we were completely on today,” said Reed. “We had some timing issues. Some things we did a little better, but we’ve definitely got some work to do.”

The Hawks’ roster consists of seniors Marissa Cox and Baylie Dalton, juniors Lexey McMannus, Emily Woodilla, Emily Perley, Karissa Hatch, Morgan Smith and Alyssa Cyr, sophomores Nicole Petersen, Bailee Fogg, Cammie Peirce, and Laura Zenk, and freshmen Mercedes Davis, Hannah Morin, Sophi Williams, Kallie Urquhart and Grace Qualey.

Ellsworth had the most arduous experience of the meet but fought through the injury suffered by sophomore Belle Albert to return to the mat at the end of the competition — nearly 90 minutes after the Eagles started their routine — and complete a solid performance that nearly kept pace with Old Town and Hermon.

“I think really emotions are high right out of the gate and you’re ready to go,” said Melanie Fox, who shares the Ellsworth coaching duties with Kat Dickens. “Then in an instant it’s all shut down so you have to try to rebuild that momentum you first had and push through, and the girls did that.”

Ellsworth team members along with Albert are seniors Victoria Jackson and Carlotta Osanna, juniors Piper Hardison, Maddy Harmon, Danielle White and Emily Young, sophomores Lindsey Bland, Olivia Brown, Hailey McCabe, Maya McCabe and Molly McCarthy, and freshmen Kristen Omlor, Olivia Robidoux and Gabriella Morse.

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Ernie Clark

Ernie Clark is a veteran sportswriter who has worked with the Bangor Daily News for more than a decade. A four-time Maine Sportswriter of the Year as selected by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters...