The Hermon Hawks, pictured winning the Class B North cheerleading title in January 2020, are among the top contenders for this year's virtual championships. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

Let the judging begin.

High school cheering squads around the region have completed their routines for the annual conference championship meets, the first steps toward crowning 2021 state champions.

Like other high school sports, competitive cheering during the pandemic has required significant change.

The meets are virtual this year, with teams videotaping their routines and then sending them off to be judged. They will then be livestreamed in conjunction with the announcement of final results on dates determined by each conference.

There are no fans watching the events live, nor are the routines quite the same due to COVID-19 guidelines.

Vocalization during the routines and pyramids is not allowed, nor is the five-point showmanship category. That means the routines will focus on other disciplines such as dance, tumbling and jumps.

Videos for the Aroostook League cheering championships have been completed and judged. Each team’s performance is scheduled to be livestreamed via at 3 p.m. Saturday in conjunction with the release of final results.

Central Aroostook of Mars Hill won the Aroostook League title in 2020, and the Panthers also are the seven-time defending Class D state champions.

Central Aroostook is one of five schools competing for the County championship along with Caribou, Fort Fairfield, Houlton and Presque Isle.

The Bangor cheering squad videotaped its KVAC routine late Thursday in order to meet the midnight deadline for submitting virtual performances.

Judges will score the KVAC routines this weekend, with a livestream of all the performances and the results set to be aired next Saturday, March 13, at 2 p.m. on, according to Bangor coach Kate Robichaud.

Bangor finished second at last year’s KVAC Class A championships, just two-tenths of a point behind first-place Oxford Hills of South Paris. The Rams went on to finish third in the state in 2020 after winning the title in 2018 and placing second in 2019.

Leavitt of Turner Center is the defending KVAC Class B champion, followed by Medomak Valley of Waldoboro and Brewer in second and third place, respectively.

Twenty teams from Classes B, C and D in the Penobscot Valley Conference had a 9 p.m. Thursday deadline for submitting their video routines.

Ellsworth athletic administrator Josh Frost said he should have the PVC results back from the judges by Monday morning. A livestream production of the performances as well as the results should be uploaded to the Ellsworth High School YouTube channel and released by Monday afternoon.

Class B schools participating are Brewer, Caribou, Ellsworth, Hermon, John Bapst of Bangor, Old Town and Presque Isle. Competing Class C schools are Bucksport, Calais, Central of Corinth, Dexter, Foxcroft Academy of Dover-Foxcroft, Houlton, Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln, Orono and Sumner of East Sullivan.

Class D schools in the field are Bangor Christian, Penobscot Valley of Howland, Penquis Valley of Milo and Schenck of East Millinocket.

Hermon captured the PVC “B” title last winter en route to its fourth straight state championship, followed by Ellsworth, Presque Isle and John Bapst as the top four finishers at the 2020 conference meet.

Sumner used the event as a springboard to winning last year’s Class C state crown by capturing the conference title, followed by Central, Mattanawcook Academy, Houlton and Bucksport.

The state championships follow with team videos for the event to be made either March 17 or March 18 and the livestreaming of the performances and the results in all classes for all classes scheduled for March 27 on NFHS Network.

For the state championship meet, each school’s athletic administrator will be emailed a template with a code word to be incorporated into the team’s competition video to verify that the performance was recorded on the designated day.

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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...