BANGOR — The moment the Lewiston High School cheerleaders received permission to step on the mat Saturday afternoon, the buzz around the tradition-rich Bangor Auditorium was palpable.

One minute into the Blue Devils’ routine, coach Lynnette Morency did her best to conceal her quivering lower lip with trembling hands.

With two minutes elapsed, four Lewiston cheerleaders extended themselves on the shoulders of teammates high above the open-air arena. Each held one arm extended, palm up, as if the quartet knew the crowd of more than 3,000 was eating out of its hands.

And by the time the late, legendary Michael Jackson punctuated the performance with his musical query, ‘Who’s bad?,’ everybody with eyes transfixed on the floor knew the answer.

Exhausted embraces ensued, tears flowed freely, and the two things Lewiston targeted on this day — a Class A championship, and yes, a record-high score — both were foregone conclusions.

Lewiston won its fourth state title in nine years and first since 2006 with ice water veins and red-hot, rock star showmanship.

“They did everything I asked them to do and more,” Morency said. “I think I started crying the minute they started.”

In the silver-anniversary edition of the Maine Principals’ Association cheering championship, Lewiston wowed the masses with a performance that was pure gold.

It was the closest thing to a perfect routine the state has ever seen. Anyone watching the tape will be hard-pressed to define what perfection possibly could be, if this wasn’t it.

The Devils broke their own existing record of 2006 by nearly three points, reaping 168.5 on a scale of 175.

“That was our goal, and I guess we reached it,” Lewiston co-captain Ashley Blauvelt said. “It was all about having fun and doing what we knew how to do.”

Marshwood, Western Maine champion and largely considered Lewiston’s primary competition, threw down the gauntlet with a 162.5 right before the Devils took the floor.

Three-time defending state champ Biddeford was more than 10 points behind in third.

Lewiston jammed the middle third of the auditorium bleachers with its fans. Almost all were clad in blue. Many arrived at 10:30 a.m. or earlier to stand in line and claim their spot for the 3 p.m. session.

“We’re so proud of our girls and our fans, and we never would have done it without our coaches. It was our fans giving us stamina and giving us power,” said Rebecca Lessard, also a captain and one of the Blue Devils’ seven seniors. “We were calm. We relaxed. You get out there on the floor and you can see the bleachers going straight up. You can’t even see the top. It’s incredible.”

The win punctuated an emotionally draining week, and day, for the team and his coach.

Even as she instructed her team to visualize unprecedented success, Morency acknowledged that she had trouble sleeping.

“I had nightmares all week, like anxiety dreams. One night I was on a cruise and I couldn’t get the girls all in one place. They were all over the place. Then the other night we were in China,” Morency said. “I couldn’t get to them. Today they were at the high school and running everywhere. I’m like, ‘Oh my God, my dream is coming true.’ But they knocked it out of the park.”

After a team breakfast, Lewiston’s cheerleaders exchanged hand-written letters with their coach, then read them tearfully on the bus ride to Bangor.

Even that destination itself came with emotional baggage.

“My sophomore year I was the one who caused the deduction here that made us lose states, so there was definitely redemption today,” Lessard said. “I felt that no matter what happened, we gave everything. Whatever happened, we were proud of ourselves.”

In fact, the last three trips north in odd-numbered years ended with penalty deductions that kept the Devils either from winning or advancing to the finals.

The cheerleaders didn’t feel alone in being jinxed, either.

“Our football team comes up here every year and can’t win a game,” Morency said. “Our athletic director (Jason Fuller) said, ‘Can you go up there and break the curse for us?’ So that’s what we did.”

Lewiston also qualified for next month’s New England championship in Providence, R.I., along with the top three finishers in each classification.

Hermon (Class B), Houlton (Class C) and Central Aroostook (Class D) each hoisted the state trophy. Central Aroostook’s win was its fourth straight and ninth overall, a state record.

Leavitt (B), Monmouth (C) and Buckfield (D) each finished fourth in its 12-team competition, falling one spot of New Englands.

“That was a little disappointing,” Leavitt coach Brenda Perry said. “But you know what? We’re alternates. Fourth place is good. Last year was placed last.”

The Hornets have battled with Medomak Valley all season.

Saturday was no exception, with the third-place Panthers (138.6 points) just ahead of Leavitt (134.7).

Hermon captured the title with 147.

“That was a bit of a point spread,” Perry said. “We got a couple points lower (than Leavitt’s previous high score). It gets a little tougher every competition you go to. We should be expecting it.”

Likewise, Monmouth struggled to mask its disappointment after being introduced as the first alternate in Class C.

The regional champion Mustangs were the only Western C team in the top six at states. Orono and defending state champ Sumner followed Houlton in second and third.

“I think it’s a little bit of a disappointment,” Monmouth coach Danielle Tannenbaum said. “But there’s nothing for them to be ashamed of. They went out there and hit their routine. It was the highest score they’ve had all season. It’s a tough competition. Every (team) stepped it up.”

Tri-county schools were well represented, accounting for 13 of the 42 squads in attendance.

Oxford Hills, Edward Little, Lisbon, Poland, Mountain Valley, St. Dom’s, Livermore Falls, Jay and Rangeley also competed.

[email protected]


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: