Stephanie Crane, the co-head coach of the Bangor High School cheerleading team with Kate Robichaud, admitted that she thought a fall during a stunt at the end of the Rams’ routine at the Class A North regional cheering competition at Lewiston High on Saturday would cost them a first-place finish.
But it didn’t.
Thanks to a revamped pyramid, the defending state Class A champion Rams tallied a score of 85.8 to edge Lewiston by 1.4 points and capture the regional championship. Oxford Hills of South Paris took third with 81 points
Hampden Academy (67.6) was fourth followed by Mt. Blue of Farmington (63.40), Skowhegan (41.70), Portland (39.6), Windham (32.9) and Deering of Portland (29.4).
Defending five-time state Class B champ Hermon won the Class B North regional in convincing fashion at Stearns High School in Millinocket.
The C North and D North/South regionals were also held in Millinocket.
Central High of Corinth bested the Penobscot Valley of Howland/Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln co-operative team by 2.05 points in claiming the C North title.
Meanwhile, Monmouth/Winthrop notched the D North-South crown with a score of 69.9 points, 11.9 more than Central Aroostook of Mars Hill received.
Penobscot Valley is the defending Class D state champion but was moved to Class C this season. Monmouth Academy was the state Class C winner a year ago and is now in Class D.
Last year’s state championships were held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The state championships will be decided at the Augusta Civic Center next Saturday and it will be an open affair with every team invited to attend, regardless of its showing at the regionals.
In Class B North, Hermon posted a score of 70.8 to easily outdistance runnerup Ellsworth by 12.4 points. John Bapst of Bangor was third with 48.85 points and rounding out the top five were Nokomis of Newport (46.3) and Presque Isle (41.35).
Old Town (38.9), Lawrence (36.65) and Mount Desert Island (33.9) completed the field.
“Our routine certainly wasn’t perfect but it was the best one we’ve done yet,” said Hermon coach Kristie Reed, whose Hawks previously won the Big East and Penobscot Valley Conference B North competitions. “Our goal is to get better with each competition. I was pleased.”
In Class C North, Dexter finished third (66) followed by Bucksport (61.3), Sumner of East Sullivan (56.7), Houlton/Greater Houlton Christian Academy (53), Orono (44.3), Caribou (33.9), Foxcroft Academy of Dover-Foxcroft (33.8) and Mt. View of Thorndike (15.9).
There were only six schools in D North/South with Bangor Christian finishing third (47.8) followed by Penquis of Milo (35.9), Schenck of East Millinocket (28.9) and Forest Hills of Jackman (10.8).
In the A North regional, Crane expected Lewiston and possibly even Oxford Hills to finish ahead of them due to the fall at the end of the routine.
“We knew how well Lewiston and Oxford Hills did so I thought we would probably come in second or more like third,” Crane said. “When they announced us as first place, we were pretty shocked. We thought “Is this real life?”
But she also said her team turned in a gem of a performance outside of that late fall, calling it their best performance of the season.
“It was far better than the KVACs,” said Crane, whose Rams had finished .3 behind winner Oxford Hills at the KVACs.
“It was absolutely beautiful. It was rock solid other than the fall at the end,” said Crane. “The pyramid was amazing.
“It was a good day,” she added.
Crane explained that the pyramid had to be overhauled following the KVAC championships, which were held in Augusta.
“We needed to upgrade the degree of difficulty,” said Crane. “You have three elements in the pyramid and you need all three to require elite level skills. At the KVACs, two of the elements were at the advanced level rather than the elite level.
“So when the girls hit it [perfectly], that’s what probably saved us,” Crane said. “That was the biggest factor.”
She said having an extra week to prepare for the regionals helped. They were supposed to be held the previous weekend but the snowstorm pushed it back to this weekend.
Crane and Robichauid knew they were going to have a quality team this winter because they graduated only one cheerleader off last year’s team.
“We have eight seniors who have cheered together for quite some time,” said Crane.
The seniors are Emily Tenney, Haily Tracy, Haley Pasternack, Lizzy Brecht, Natalie Cross, Kaydence Lux, Tessa Alley and Olivia Drake.
Bangor will be looking for its third state Class A title in five years next Saturday in Augusta.
The Rams captured the 2018 championship before winning it again last season during the virtual competition.
Biddeford won the Class A South Regional with a score of 81.15. The Tigers were followed by Sanford (76.40), Marshwood of South Berwick (73.15), South Portland (72.30), Scarborough (71.40), Thornton Academy of Saco (67.65), Massabesic of Waterboro (61.35), Gorham (59.50), Noble of North Berwick (59.00), Bonny Eagle of Buxton (52.60) and Kennebunk (45.30).
Medomak Valley of Waldoboro was the B South winner with 82 points. Leavitt of Turner was second (71.90) followed by Gray-New Gloucester (58.40), Erskine Academy of South China (55.20), Morse of Bath (50), Lincoln Academy of Newcastle (42.40), Gardiner/Hall-Dale (42.40), Poland (42) and Lake Region of Naples (34.30).
Lisbon was the C South winner with 68.10 points. Winslow was second (66.35), Mountain Valley of Rumford (61.85) was third and rounding out the competition were Sacopee Valley of South Hiram (50.70), Madison (45.10), Spruce Mountain of Jay (43.35) and Dirigo of Dixfield (39.90).