Cheering: Medomak Valley repeats at B South regionals; Gray-New Gloucester gets redemption as runer-up

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Gray-New Gloucester celebrates coming second in Class B South regional cheering championships on Saturday at Augusta Civic Center. (Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal)

AUGUSTA — It didn’t come easy, but Medomak Valley did what it needed to do to earn its eighth Class B South regional cheering championship in a row Saturday at Augusta Civic Center.

The Panthers performed a relatively clean routine and scored 76.2 points to put themselves out of reach of second-place Gray-New Gloucester, which scored 66.8 for runner-up honors.

“They’ve had to grind it out these last two weeks,” Panthers coach Heather Simmons said. “We’ve dealt with illness — as I’m sure everyone else has — and no performances in front of a crowd. And we made some major changes this week to kind of up the eliteness of our routine, and they pulled through. We had some shaky spots, but they just have a drive to perform in front of a crowd, and they executed good enough today.”

While winning regionals and qualifying for states is an every-year occurrence for the Panthers, for the Patriots, the second-place finish was a sweet victory for a team that finished in the first spot out of qualifying (seventh) at last year’s regionals.

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“(Last year) the juniors, who are now seniors, were like, ‘This can’t happen again,'” Patriots coach Melissa Burila said. “I think it was a little bit of a wake-up call (last year), to know what it’s like to have to go. So it was really, really good. They worked really, really hard.”

Leavitt, despite all its coaching turnover over the last few years, finished third for the second year in a row, scoring 60.2 points. The Hornets felt the same feeling the Patriots had last year with their own experience of missing out at qualifying for states two years ago.

This year, the Patriots were in good position to secure a coveted top-six position. They won the Western Maine Conference championship on their home floor last week, and that experience got a large contingent of freshmen ready for the brighter lights of regionals in Augusta.

“Mathematically, our routine should win Western Maine Conference. It’s whether they do it or not, you know, and they did it enough to get by,” Burila said. “It wasn’t perfect, but it was enough to get by.”

On Saturday, the Patriots put everything together to earn their second-place finish.

“Their stunts hit, and not thinking that the small details don’t matter,” Burila said. “You have to finish everything, you have to pay attention to the little things and not get swallowed up by the hype of where we’re going.”

Medomak Valley can worry about paying attention to the little things for the next two weeks leading up to the state championship at Cross Insurance Center in Bangor on Feb. 10. Simmons said she doesn’t foresee any major changes or fixes to the routine, just getting her girls more confident in the routine in its present form.

The Panthers will need that confidence. The South region (and Western region before it) has been shut out of winning the state championship since Poland won the region’s last state title in 2010. It’s been Hermon holding the title every year since, save for Old Town’s title two years ago.

“Our kids, they want it this year. It’s time for a Southern Maine team to come out on top in Class B,” Simmons said. “So they’re motivated. They want it bad.”

Besides Medomak Valley, Gray-New Gloucester and Leavitt, the South will be represented by Morse (fourth place, 58.5 points), Mountain Valley (fifth, 58) and Spruce Mountain (sixth, 50.9).

Poland, performing in honor of athletic director Don King and his family after the death of his son, Connor, finished eighth, and Oak Hill was 11th.

wkramlich@sunjournal.com

Freeport Falcons compete in the Class B South regional cheering championships Saturday at Augusta Civic Center. (Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal)Oak Hill Raiders leap during Class B South regional cheering championships Saturday at Augusta Civic Center. (Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal)Morse Shipbuilders dance during Class B South regional cheering championships Saturday at Augusta Civic Center. (Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal)Leavitt Hornets compete in the Class B South regional cheering championships Saturday at Augusta Civic Center. (Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal)Oak Hill Raiders perform during Class B South regional cheering championships Saturday at Augusta Civic Center. (Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal)Leavitt Hornets compete in the Class B South regional cheering championships Saturday at Augusta Civic Center. (Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal)Gray-New Gloucester celebrates coming second in Class B South regional cheering championships Saturday at Augusta Civic Center. (Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal)Medomak Valley Panthers celebrate coming in first place in the Class B South regional cheering championships Saturday at Augusta Civic Center. (Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal)Leavitt Hornets react after it was announced that they finished third in the Class B South regional cheering championships Saturday at Augusta Civic Center. (Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal)

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