Central Aroostook of Mars Hill celebrates its victory in Saturday's Class D North/South regional cheering competition at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.

Central Aroostook captures D North/South cheering regional title|

Defending six-time state champ Central Aroostook High School of Mars Hill rattled off a highly creative and near-flawless performance Saturday afternoon to cruise to the Class D North/South regional cheerleading championship at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.

Central Aroostook has captured 11 state titles over the last 12 years.

The Panthers led a parade of eight teams that qualified for the state championships Feb. 8 at the Augusta Civic Center.

Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik

Twelve teams combined participated from the North and South regions. A minimum of 11 were required to send eight teams to the states. Ten or fewer would have resulted in only the top six advancing.

Central Aroostook racked up 74.9 points with Penobscot Valley of Howland (63.3) and Bangor Christian (58.1) rounding out the top three.

Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik

The other qualifiers were Woodland (53), Lee Academy (51.6), Penquis of Milo (49.4), Machias (46.6) and Wiscasset (44.9).

Schenck of East Millinocket, which brought cheering back this year after a multi-year absence, was ninth (40.5), and the other teams were Buckfield (40), Fort Fairfield (31.7) and Boothbay Region (29.1).

Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik

“We did very well for what we’ve been through this year,” Central Aroostook coach Sami Jo Allen said. “We nailed it.”

The Panthers had been riddled by injuries and Allen lost her father, Wallace Pryor.

Central Aroostook cheerleaders have overcome two concussions, two shoulder injuries, a dislocated elbow and a sprained ankle.

Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik

All but freshman Riley Prince (dislocated elbow) have returned.

“On a scale of one to 10, it was an eight and a half,” said Janice Lyons, the other coach. “There is always room for improvement.”

“It was one of our best performances of the year, by far,” senior Alyssa Tilley said. “Considering all of our ups and downs throughout the year, our performance was amazing. We gave it all we got. We put it all on the mat.”

“I’m proud of every single person on this team,” senior Mersaydez Johnston said. “We have pushed through and fought since day one to make the routine the best it could have been.”

Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik

Tilley and Johnston praised their coaches for their creativity in putting together the routines.

The other team members are Gracie Bailey, Megan Brewer, Katie Carvell, Amy Geritsen, Gracie Giberson, Elizabeth Hotham, Madison Howlett, Anna Kilcollins, Delaney McKeen, Jenna Rusby, Jack Schafer and Janelle Tweedie.

Penobscot Valley turned in a solid performance but one of its pyramids collapsed, which proved costly. Flyer Kiera Hatch landed on her teammates but was not injured.

Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik

“Unfortunately, it’s hard to overcome a five or six-point deduction, which is what we got,” Penobscot Valley coach Wendy Clark-Thurlow said. “We had performed [the pyramid] better, and our performance wasn’t our best today.

“I’m glad we have another shot to do it. We have a couple of weeks to fine-tune and perfect those stunts, and we’ll see where we’re at,” Clark-Thurlow said.

She felt her team would have been extremely close to Central Aroostook if it wasn’t for the miscue.

Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik

“The fall kept us from doing another stunt that was supposed to go right after that one,” Clark-Thurlow said.

She said Central Aroostook was a deserving winner.

“Central Aroostook is always a top contender in this division. We usually give them a decent run for their money, but they have a lot of the elements,” Clark-Thurlow said.

Saturday’s competition was like a throwback to the 1980s as several teams used music from that decade in their routines.