LISBON — Nobody on the Lisbon High School cheerleading squad is positive what to expect Saturday afternoon.

And nobody really knows if the Greyhounds are a year late to the party or a year ahead of schedule.

Everyone is sure of one thing, however. Lisbon gets to represent its school for the first time at the eighth-annual New England Interscholastic Spirit Championships. Not many of the other details matter.

“I think it’s going to be one of those things where you give it all you got and don’t look back,” Lisbon senior Keri Woodcock said.

Lisbon is one of nine Maine schools scheduled to perform at the showcase.

Local teams historically have performed well. Lewiston is the two-time defending Division I champion. Leavitt is entered in Division II. Lisbon will compete in Division III along with Mountain Valley Conference rival Madison.

“We kind of realized since the beginning of the season that we had potential,” junior Taylor Martin said. “From the first day that we started cheering we’ve come so far, and it’s really obvious. I knew we could do it. I’m not really surprised.”

It has been a season of slow, steady progress for the Greyhounds.

They welcomed a new coach, Nicole Adams, who was a state champion competitor at St. Dom’s before leading the Edward Little program for many years.

Six seniors graduated out of the program after a 2012-13 season that everyone affiliated with the Greyhounds expected would be their year. Lisbon dominated the MVC and Class C West competitions before a fall in the state meet resulted in a disappointing third-place finish.

“It started more as a rebuilding year for them. They came in last year with the attitude that they were going to take it all, because they should have taken it all,” Adams said. “Teams fall. Things happen. So they came in, a lot of them, still discouraged from that. There was a lot of building that up.”

Lisbon didn’t place at the MVC meet, with Mountain Valley, Dirigo and Spruce Mountain enjoying most of the fanfare.

With under two weeks to prepare for regionals, the Greyhounds adapted their routine and ascended to runner-up honors behind another surprise team, Madison.

“We didn’t really believe in ourselves.” senior Jen Runyon said. “After we saw that we could do it, we knew we had an awesome routine.”

Adams said that there were adjustments on her side of the equation, too.

“For them it was taking the floor again after the fall, and for me it was learning Class C,” Adams said. “I find with Class C that cleanliness will take it over difficulty, which is the flip of A. That was the biggest challenge for me, because I was giving them harder things to do.”

Lisbon continued its surge into the state meet at Augusta Civic Center, where it posted the top score among all Class C West schools and finished second to Central of East Corinth.

Runyon, Woodcock and Olivia Bulgin are the team’s only seniors.

“We’ve accomplished many things,” Bulgin said. “We worked really hard and we brought it on the mats, which is awesome. We did more than we thought we could.”

Although she wasn’t part of the crash at states a year ago, Runyon had to sidestep her own potential crisis of confidence. She was coming back from ankle surgery.

“That was the deal (with the surgeon). ‘I’m coming back next year, right?’ He said, ‘One step at a time,’ but it went well,” Runyon said.

Lisbon’s leaders say that this year’s squad, despite the lower early expectations, is closer than the team that was a preseason favorite.

That bodes well for the future. Both Martin and Adams are thinking of New Englands as a jumping-off point for next season.

“We were really good last year. We had a bad ending at states, so it was rough coming back, but we showed everyone that we can do it,” Martin said. “Every competition we’ve changed something and made it harder. Every time we come back with something new.”

“Last year they had everything it took to win. It took them a while to rebuild that,” Adams added. “We all kind of had the look of the underdog.”

New England Interscholastic Spirit Championship

Saturday, at Lawrence (Mass.) High School

Maine schools and scheduled start times

Division 1

Marshwood, 10:50 a.m.

Lewiston, 11:35 a.m.

Division 2

Medomak Valley, 10:55 a.m.

Leavitt, 11:30 a.m.

Division 3

Lisbon, 2:15 p.m.

Central, 2:55 p.m.

Madison, 3:45 p.m.

Division 4

Penobscot Valley, 3:50 p.m.

Co-ed

Biddeford, 2:35 p.m.


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