BANGOR – For six minutes of Saturday’s Eastern Maine Class B and C cheerleading championships, the Bangor Auditorium was transformed from an ordinary gymnasium into the hippest joint in town, circa the 1940s.
In one of the only routines with a true theme, the Houlton cheerleading team came from behind with swell stunts and a ring-a-ding dance routine set to a medley of current swing hits, earning 85 points to take the Class B championship.
Mattanawcook Academy of the Lincoln went a popular route with a rock and disco medley but also came from second place to win the Class C title with 72 points.
The Shiretowners edged defending regional champ Old Town (77 points) in the Class B final. Bucksport finished third with 76 and Rockland was fourth with 72. In Class C, Penquis of Milo racked up 65.5 points for the runner-up plaque, with Dexter in third place (64.5) and Woodland fourth (64).
The top four teams in each class go to the state championships, which will be held Feb. 6 at the Auditorium.
The maximum score for a cheerleading routine is 100. Judges may award up to 10 points each for fundamentals and perfection on the routine and a maximum of five points for a variety of additions to the routine, such as jumps, stunts, pyramids, tumbling, creativity and voice projection. The routines can be up to three minutes long.
Each team performs a preliminary cheer and the field is halved based on the top scores. The teams that make the cut perform their routines again. Final places are based on how the judges rescore the routines.
Houlton was hoping the judges would send them past the Indians after falling short of first place in the preliminary. The Shiretowners opened their well-synchronized routine with four strong pyramids and ended with some jivin’ swing dance steps.
“We wanted something a little different, something that no one else would have,” Houlton captain Alicia DeWitt said.
Houlton executed a near-perfect routine and sealed the win when Old Town lost control of two pyramids from its otherwise stellar routine.
Other members of the Houlton squad are Natalia Anderson, Brandi Bassi, Amy Blanchard, Melissa Carmichael, Emily Cole, Sarah Dayton, Kelly Droolen, Melissa Farrell, Kathleen Howland, Sarah King, Brooke Lynds, Angela Merbach, Sarah Porter, Sarah Putnam, Elissa Skehan, Amanda Varney and Annie Wilson.
The Lynx had never won an Eastern Maine crown, although they have won Penobscot Valley conference championships and have been to the states. The elusive regional title was on their mind and to that end they weren’t looking to do anything fancy.
“We worked on clean stunts, not necessarily hard stunts, but clean stunts,” senior Taryn Turcotte said.
And Mattanawcook needed a clean routine as it was down half a point to Dexter going into the final.
“We talked about really landing our stunts and selling the routine,” MA coach Jodi Bisson said. “We knew we had a strong routine and we could make it come together in the finals.”
The other Lynx cheerleaders are Crystal Brackett, Jana Crocker, Rachel Doane, Christine Gendreau, Elizabeth Kenney, ErinMacEachern, Nicole McDonald, Sarah McLaughlin, Bobbi-Lyn Reed, Erin Scott, Valerie Thompson, Laci Whitney, Jessica Wilkes and Loyann Worster.
The Class B Ellsworth team gets a nod for its composure. After the initial votes were tallied, the Eagles hadn’t made the cut for finals. But when the votes were re-examined during the finals, it seemed that they actually had – one judge had taken off five points because it looked like the girls were wearing metal barrettes taped their heads (tape is commonly used to hold hair in place but metal barrettes are not allowed).
It turned out that the Eagles weren’t wearing metal barrettes, but by the time the judges decided to allow Ellsworth into finals, eight girls had already left. The remaining nine performed the routine and finished fifth.