BANGOR – Second was super for Oak Hill High School at Saturday’s state cheerleading championship.

As for Lewiston, Edward Little and Buckfield, through no fault of their own, they’ll be back for seconds two days later than anyone planned or preferred. Oak Hill was the runner-up in close Class B competition at Bangor Auditorium. With their best finish ever, the Raiders also lead the first Maine delegation ever to qualify for the New England championships, scheduled for March 17 in Durham, N.H. The top three teams in each classification receive an invitation.

“To be one of the first squads ever to represent Maine will be amazing,” said Oak Hill coach Angela Roy.

Hermon captured its initial Class B title and Washington Academy of East Machias broke through for its first Class C crown since 1994. By finishing third in their respective divisions, Class B Mountain Valley and Class C St. Dom’s also punched their tickets to the New England meet.

And that was the extent of the good news, thanks to a bizarre situation that forced postponement of the Class A and D competitions until 6 p.m. Monday in this same venerable arena.

A water main broke Saturday morning on nearby Buck Street, cutting off the water supply to the competition site while the Class B-C session was getting underway. By 2 p.m., with no assurance of same-day repairs and no way to fulfill mass gathering code requirements, the Maine Principals’ Association was forced to evacuate the building and reschedule the second half of the all-day affair.

None of which is a headache for Oak Hill, whose only scheduling concern now is planning its New England itinerary.

“We said at the beginning of the season that going to New Hampshire would be a dream come true,” said Oak Hill senior Katrina Turcotte.

Oak Hill only needed to match last year’s voyage into uncharted territory and finish third to realize that dream. The Raiders went one better, though, finishing second to Mountain Valley by six-tenths of a point in the opening round and falling only a point-and-a-half shy of Hermon out of the four Class B schools called back for a second try at their three-minute routine.

“Just making callbacks was our goal,” Turcotte said. “When we heard our name, the whole team’s faces just lit up.”

Oak Hill employed an outlaw/rebel theme with its music, including such selections as John Cougar Mellencamp’s “Authority Song” and Elvis Presley’s “Jailhouse Rock.” In cautious contrast to their soundtrack, however, the Raiders dialed down and eliminated a troublesome stunt that might have cost them the Western Class B title two weeks ago.

Discretion paid dividends, because it took a pristine performance just to make the callback cut in the ‘B’ division. Poland and two-time defending state champion John Bapst each finished less than six points out of the lead on a scale of 175 in the opening round, but both were spectators for the final four.

Hermon (147), Oak Hill (145.5), Mountain Valley (144.4) and Wells (140.9) all avoided any obvious flaws in the encore. “The competition this year was phenomenal,” Roy said. “All the teams were so good. We just had a clean routine. We changed that one stunt because if we couldn’t hit it (at regionals), we definitely didn’t want to lose because of it here.”

Mountain Valley backed up its regional title with the top first-round score but couldn’t overcome its shortage of tumblers in the second go-round.

“We were giving up tumbling points (to Hermon and Oak Hill) before we even took the floor,” said Mountain Valley coach Linda Burns. “The girls hit their best routine of the year, and that’s all I can ask. Now we’re going to the New Englands to have some fun.” St. Dom’s stepped up from fourth place at regionals, leapfrogging Dirigo and Monmouth to place third in both halves of the Class C state competition. Lisbon (Class B) and Jay (Class C) also competed Saturday.

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