The Lisbon Greyhounds are the Sun Journal All-Region Cheering Team of the Year. From left are, front row: Madison Valcourt, Olivia Clark, Emma Cleaves; back row: Mykayla Harrington, Oceana Assignon, Vannessa Wasielewski and coach Nicole Adams. Sun Journal photo by Russ Dillingham

 

A runner-up finish in last year’s state championship certainly motivated the Lisbon cheering team going into this season, but it was a win in the MVC championship that really got the Greyhounds going.

They kept going (Class C South champs), and going (Class C state champs), and going (New England championships participant). And they are deservedly the 2018-19 Sun Journal All-Region Cheer Team of the Year.

It wasn’t so much the victory at MVCs, but the performance, and how it left much to be desired for a team with loftier goals than a conference title.

“After we performed at MVCs and it didn’t go as we wanted it to, it just made us work a lot harder because we knew how bad we wanted to win regionals and states, so it made us work so much harder to improve ourselves,” junior Vannessa Wasielewski said.

“Yes, we did win, but it was not our strongest, and we all knew that, walking away from it,” Lisbon coach Nicole Adams said.

To improve to where they wanted and needed in order to repeat as South regional champs and take back the Class C state crown meant re-tooling the routine. That could have been a lot to ask of a group that had already said goodbye to seven seniors from the previous year’s squad and returned just one upperclassman. The team also needed to perform at basketball games during the two weeks of preparation between MVCs and the Class C South regional competition.

Adams said it was “trying” but the girls “handled it really well.”

The Greyhounds received leadership from not only lone senior Olivia Clark, but also juniors Wasielewski, Oceania Assignon, Emma Cleaves, Mykayla Harrington and Madison Valcourt.

“We definitely all had to step it up a lot more, because although Olivia is a great leader, we need a group of us to lead a whole team,” Valcourt said. “It’s a lot different from sophomore year because we didn’t have to lead as much, we were the ones being led.”

Harrington said last year’s senior class taught the returners “not to doubt ourselves, and always keep pushing no matter what the outcome is.”

That included not being content with their MVCs performance.

“We definitely had to do a lot of changes of our routine, but we definitely watched ourselves a lot in that MVC routine to see what we did wrong, what we could fix that are small things,” Valcourt said.

Despite all the changes, Harrington said the team felt confident going into regionals.

The Greyhounds backed up that confidence with a third consecutive title, and in relatively dominant fashion.

But the job was not done. They had unfinished business from last year, when a regional championship was followed by a runner-up finish at states.

“From regionals, we just kept upping our difficulty, which made the routine harder for us, but we still put it together so it was clean and flawless at states,” Valcourt said.

“I feel like the determination this year was a lot more because we wanted that state title back a lot more, and it was kind of our drive to win,” Cleaves said. “And we keep pushing ourselves.”

That push paid off. The Greyhounds edged fellow South competitor Sacopee Valley by 1.5 points for the state crown.

“Getting second place last year after working so hard was kind of disappointing, so the drive to really push ourselves and improve this season was really strong. So when we got first this year it felt so relieving,” Assignon said.

“Definitely we felt like we redeemed ourselves because we knew we could do it,” Clark said. “And so when we won it was an amazing feeling.”

Lisbon capped off its season with an 11th-place showing out of 13 teams in its division at New Englands, and the Greyhounds were just 1.9 points out of ninth.

“This has been an incredible season,” Adams said. “The fact that they were able to win every competition they attended (in Maine) — MVCs, regionals, states — and on top of all of that walk away with a sportsmanship banner, that’s incredible, that’s absolutely incredible.”

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