Lewiston captures KVAC cheering championship

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Lewiston High School cheerleaders compete at the KVAC championship Monday in Augusta. (Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal)

AUGUSTA — Lewiston High School cheering coach Lysa Laverdierre didn’t come into the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference championships looking for yet another title and even more hardware.

“Our goal coming in today wasn’t necessarily to win or get the trophy back,” she said. “Our goal was to be the best we could.”

At Lewiston, that tends to be more than enough. Laverdierre’s Blue Devils captured their ninth KVAC Class A title in 10 years Monday at the Augusta Civic Center, scoring 84 points to hold off Bangor (82.4) and finish well in front of Oxford Hills (69.9), Lawrence (67.7) and Brewer (63.4).

“I think this week, this team overcame more adversity than we’ve ever experienced as a group before,” Laverdierre said. “Our goal was to do the best we could, and they did a phenomenal job. The trophy was just the bonus on top. We’re very happy.”

Mt. Blue (61.6 points) took sixth place, and Edward Little (48.2) came in eighth.

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In the B competition, Medomak Valley remained the class of the conference, totaling 74.9 points and beating out Leavitt (60.1), Gardiner (50.5), Morse (46.9) and Erskine (44.5).

“I was really excited for the seniors. It’s hard to stay on top, and this group has won KVACs since they were freshmen,” Panthers coach Heather Simmons said. “(I found) little things to motivate them, because sometimes you get sick of doing the same skills every single day, and the grind there.”

Lewiston’s was the latest chapter in a legacy of KVAC dominance. The Blue Devils, who have won 10 Class A state championships, are a perennial favorite at the conference championships with a haul now standing at 12 titles, all coming since 2004.

And yet, there was intrigue. The Blue Devils notched eight straight KVAC victories before Bangor stunned them last year, so for the first time since 2009, Lewiston came in with something to prove.

“It’s always a hunger to get a title that we lost,” senior Jordan Girouard said. “It’s definitely something, no matter the competition, we all look forward to, and it means a lot that the team came together and worked together.”

The fourth-to-last act of the day, Lewiston’s 19-member team put on a performance that Laverdierre designed to focus less on flashy jumps and stunts and more on rhythm, cohesion and in sync motion.

“We had to change up some of the sections in our routine, so we wanted to perform that clean,” she said. “We have very strong stunters, so instead of focusing so much on the stunting, we focused more on the motions and the cheer. Just moving cleanly across the floor, cleaning up some of our formations. Some of the overall impression things.”

As soon as they finished their routine, the Blue Devils were confident they had done enough to win.

“I got off that mat and there was so much energy rushing through me,” Girouard said. “Everybody looked at each other and we were all really happy with what we did.”

In Class B, Medomak Valley’s recent success made it the overwhelming favorite to claim the trophy again — not that Simmons necessarily saw it that way.

“It’s a new team with new ideas, new skills, so it really is different,” she said. “What we did last year has no bearing on what we do this year. It’s a clean slate and a new team.”

While she was getting her team ready, however, Simmons saw enough mistakes in the earlier performances to know that a clean routine would probably be enough for another title.

“From what I was able to see, it seemed like there were a lot of falls to the floor,” she said. “It was nice that we went out and at least hit our stunts today, and that always kind of drives everything else, when you feel the crowd cheer you on and you don’t have that kind of gasp in the air if someone comes down.”

There weren’t many slip-ups in a routine that Simmons said bodes well as the school chases its first-ever Class B state title.

“I just said, ‘I want you to be proud of that. When you leave here, that’s your legacy,’” Simmons said. “‘You won KVACs four years straight, keep that to motivate you.’ There are still things our school hasn’t accomplished, and we’re really hoping to do that this year.”

Gardiner — the last team to beat the Panthers for Class B KVAC honors in 2014 — finished third.

“I’m really happy with today’s performance,” Gardiner coach Jeanne Moody said. “They had a case of nerves, a couple of them, and one of them made some mistakes that she thought was going to cost us, but we’re happy with it. They did a good job.”

There was a new scoresheet being used for the event, and Moody said the team will have a better idea of what to expect come regionals in two weeks.

“I did talk to the judges and got some clarifications, so we’re going to make a few changes,” she said. “All the coaches are still learning, and I’m one of them.”

Lawrence and Nokomis won the Jamie Beth Shible Award for the most improved team in Class A and B, respectively. Nokomis finished seventh in Class B with 40.8 points.

An Edward Little High School cheerleader competes at the KVAC championship Monday in Augusta. (Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal) Mt. Blue High School cheerleaders compete at the KVAC championship Monday in Augusta. (Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal)

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