Ellsworth High School senior Savanah Grant remembers how close she and her teammates came to winning the state Class B cheering championship for the first time ever in 2020.
“We lost by less than a point to Hermon,” recalled Grant whose team finished eight-tenths of a point behind the Hawks (87-86.2).
But that is all forgotten now because Grant and her teammates claimed the state B title in impressive fashion at the Augusta Civic Center on Saturday afternoon, easily outdistancing runner-up Hermon by 8.7 points (88.15-79.45).
Ellsworth had six runner-up finishes in eight years under co-coaches Melanie Fox and Kat Dickens coming into this season.
“This meant a lot to us,” said Grant. “We worked hard all season, we really pushed together. We had the right mindset and we worked together as a team.”
“They had a great performance,” said Dickens. “They sold their routines, they had solid stunts and they gave it everything they had.”
“It was really amazing,” said Fox, who spent 10 years coaching at Narraguagus High School in Harrington before coming to Ellsworth. “They had a lot of positive energy. They fed off the crowd. They were able to pick it up and run with it.”
Grant said that having such great competition like Hermon motivated them to “do our best.”
The members of the Ellsworth team, in addition to Grant, included seniors Elizabeth Frost, Destiny Ray, Mariah Rossi and Mercedes Ulichny; junior Natalie Sawyer, sophomore Olivia Leighton and freshmen Noelle Towne, Ally Brown, Whitney Jordan, Molly Smith and Lily Alley.
Kristie Reed’s Hawks had won 10 of 11 state titles and five in a row before Medomak Valley of Waldoboro dethroned them last season in claiming its first state title.
Rounding out the top 10 in the 19-team field were Gray-New Gloucester (77.40), Leavitt of Turner (73.70), Medomak Valley (73.10), John Bapst of Bangor (68.75), Erskine Academy of South China (62.50), Nokomis of Newport (59.30), Lawrence of Fairfield (55.60) and Morse of Bath (54.70).
Oxford Hills of South Paris captured its first Class A championship since winning three in a four-year span from 1997-2000.
The Vikings edged defending champ Lewiston by just 1.9 points (89.00-87.10).
In the closest competition of the day, Lisbon-St. Dominic’s of Auburn squeaked by Dexter by .20 (78.40-78.20) to defend its C title and win its third crown in five years.
Central Aroostook of Mars Hill returned to the pinnacle of Class D after a two-year hiatus.
Central Aroostook, which had captured the D North-South regional by nearly 20 points, won by a much closer margin as it was 4.30 points better than runnerup Bangor Christian (50.40-46.10).
The Panthers won 12 of 13 state titles between 2008-2020 but was unseated by Penobscot Valley of Howland in 2021 and then Monmouth/Winthrop took home last year’s championship.
Following Oxford Hills and Lewiston in the 19-team Class A competition were Noble of North Berwick (82.60), Sanford (74.25), Bangor (71.50), Thornton Academy of Saco (69.25), Bonny Eagle of Buxton (66.80), Mt. Blue of Farmington (64.10), Hampden Academy (63.65) and Biddeford (61.40).
The Oxford Hills cheerleaders, coached by Deb Loveless, were seniors Abigail Fickett, Lauren Frye, Elizabeth Hallee, Kelsi Laplante, Samantha Mills and Madison Striegel; junior Adrianna Mills and sophomores Jaidyn-Lynn Daigle, Natalie Gray, Alexa Dunham, Lauren Millett, Eleanor Nareff and Brealynn Record.
Central High of Corinth was third behind Lisbon-St. Dom’s and Dexter among 18 teams in Class C. Central tallied 68.70 points, Completing the top 10 were Winslow (67.40), Bucksport (62.80), Sumner of East Sullivan (61.30), Houlton/Greater Houlton Christian (58.70), Dirigo of Dixfield (57.70), Mountain Valley of Rumford (57.45) and Spruce Mountain of Jay (54.75).
Nicole Adams’ Lisbon-St. Dom’s team included sophomores Nevaeh Fortin, Mackenzie Theriault and Riley Hoyle along with freshmen Kyle Berube, Ella Morales, Solaya Russo, Reese Kulow, Alivia Saunders, Payton Hoyle, Ava Kottmann, Tiana Seaborne, Sela Russell and Kendall Gravel.
There were only eight teams in D North-South.
In third place behind Central Aroostook and Bangor Christian was Machias (39.50) and completing the field were Narraguagus (35.00), Boothbay Region (34.20), Woodland (32.70), Penquis of Milo (30.50) and Fort Fairfield (28.70).
Noelle Bailey’s Central Aroostook team included seniors Anna Kilcollins and Delaney McKeen, sophomores Rebecca Bell and Julia Pierce and freshmen Abigail Howlett, Victoria McCrum and Hannah Shaw.