BANGOR, Maine — Lineup changes almost always create consternation in team sports, particularly in such activities as competitive cheering where precision is paramount among the participants.
The Central of Corinth cheering squad faced that adversity Wednesday after losing one team member to an emergency and a second to academic issues. But the Red Devils quickly regrouped, and on Saturday, they edged Houlton to win the Class C North championship at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.
Coach Cristy Strout’s Red Devils totaled 67.2 points to edge runner-up Houlton (66.3), with Bucksport (62.6), Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln (57.3), Sumner of East Sullivan (56.3) and 2016 state champion Orono (55.8) also qualifying for the state championship meet to be held Feb. 11 at the Augusta Civic Center.
“Our saying all week long — and really all season long but it became more pertinent this week — was that you put the work in and you get to where you want to go, and these kids put the work in,” Strout said.
“I told them my wish for them today was just to leave it all out there. Whether it was first place, sixth place or somewhere in between, I thought that they already had won this week in life and I just wanted them to leave it all out there and they did.”
Central and Houlton were the last two teams to compete in the 10-school C North meet as selected by random draw, and the 20-member Houlton squad delivered a solid performance in an effort to back up the Penobscot Valley Conference small-school and Aroostook County titles it captured a week earlier.
“I was glad that [Houlton] hit it strong because I wanted to compete against a strong team,” Central senior captain Taylor Emerson said.
Central, which lost to Houlton by 0.6 points at the Penobscot Valley Conferences, closed out the meet with a performance revised within the previous two days.
“We reworked everything, we came together as a team and just said, ‘We’re going to stay positive, we’re going to rally and we’re going to take this on Saturday,’” Emerson said.
The Red Devils’ performance was strong enough to edge Houlton by 0.9 points.
“These kids, I can’t say enough about them,” Strout said. “They’re good kids and they want to work, and they let what happened bring them together and not tear them apart.”
Members of the champion Central squad are seniors Taylor Emerson, Rhianna Bailey, Kacey Wright, Janell Reece, Jamie Smith, Alicia Halloran and Kassandra Hartley; sophomores Riese Mansfield, Mary Miller, Kylie Graffam, Faith Fugel, Emily Cunningham, Brianna Butler, Cassidy Gray and Danelle Williams; and freshmen Whitney Larson, Montana Pennington, Maddigan Demoranville, Kaitlynn Bean and Jaeden Viani. Carly Osnoe is the team manager.
Competing for runner-up Houlton were seniors Chloe Davis, Sarah Delano, Medinah Diane, Hannah Foley, Hannah Jacobs, Toni MacDonald, Tessa Roshto and Rachel Toopin; juniors Cassie Butler, Claire Fitzpatrick, Lexi Miller and Anessa Wilde; sophomores Taylor Cowan, Brittany Fitzpatrick, Makenzie Fitzpatrick, Gabriella Guiod, Yasmine Hatch, Hannah Pierce and Kate Smith; and freshmen Lexi Crouse, Paige Ford and Grace Toupin. Grace Violette is the team manager.