The Central Aroostook Panthers perform their routine at the 2019 class D regional cheerleading championship at the Cross Center on Saturday. The Panters won first plance and will advance to the state championship Feb. 9. Credit: Linda Coan O’Kresik

It has been a big winter to date at Central Aroostook High School in Mars Hill.

Both the school’s boys and girls varsity basketball teams rank No. 1 in Class C North — with a combined 25-4 record entering the final two weeks of the regular season.

Now perhaps the most predictable winter sports success story at the school has joined in the Panthers’ party, as five-time defending state champion Central Aroostook of Mars Hill avenged a rare loss last year by winning Saturday’s Class D North/South cheering championship at the Cross Insurance Center.

“It’s been fabulous,” said Sami Jo Allen, who coaches the Central Aroostook cheer team with Janice Lyons. “We have a lot of success going on right now. We’re excited for the season to get into full swing.

“We’re blessed with good kids.”

The Panthers used their all-around strength, particularly in tumbling and stunts, to score 75.3 points in the combined regional.

‘We work on stunts and try to make them difficult,” Allen said. “Our tumbling is beautiful. We have strong jumpers. I don’t personally think we’re weak in any area, and I was very happy with everything they did today.”

Penobscot Valley Conference Class D champion Penobscot Valley of Howland, which defeated Central Aroostook at last year’s regional before finishing second to the Panthers at states, finished second among the eight participating schools with 67.9 points.

“I was very impressed with how the Howlers did,” Penobscot Valley coach Wendy Clark-Thurlow said. “We’ve been working hard, but Mother Nature hit us pretty hard last week as far as our changes went.

“Our score increased by more than 10 points from last week, the girls came out and did what we asked. We’re up against some really tough competition from bigger schools, so the girls and myself are really pleased with where we placed.”

Bangor Christian finished a solid third with 55.8 points and will join Central Aroostook and Penobscot Valley at states along with Machias (51.1), Deer Isle-Stonington (51.0) and Woodland (50.8).

The state meet is set for Saturday, Feb. 9, at the Augusta Civic Center.

Also competing at the North/South regional were Buckfield (45.1) and Fort Fairfield (42.5).

Members of the North/South champion Central Aroostook squad are Megan Brewer, Audree Burtt, Natalie Carson, Emma Fletcher, Gracie Giberson, Daisy Grant, Amy Gerritsen, Elizabeth Hotham, Madison Howlett, Mersaydez Johnston, Olivia Pelletier, Jenna Rusby, Jack Schafer, Janelle Tweedie and Jillian Tweedie.

Representing runner-up Penobscot Valley were Emma Buck, Paige Carter, Ainsley Hainer, Kiera Hatch, Isabella Heald, Maggie LeBlanc, Julianna Rogers, Indica Rosario, Makayla Sisco, Delaney Theriault, Kara Theriault and MacKenzie Thompson.

We’ll keep working,” Clark-Thurlow said. “We’re going to treat states like it’s fourth-and-long at the Super Bowl. We’re just going to go for it.”

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...