BANGOR — January has been an excellent month for competition cheer teams throughout Hancock County. On the biggest stage, three of those teams kept their seasons going with some of their best performances yet.
Ellsworth, Mount Desert Island and Sumner put exclamation points on a strong month at Saturday’s Northern Maine championships at the Cross Insurance Center by qualifying for the upcoming state meet. The teams finished in the top halves of their respective fields following a full day of action in Bangor.
In the morning session, Ellsworth finished second of 15 teams in Class B North. The Eagles’ 81.4 points were second only to defending champion Hermon, which scored 85.5.
Through four meets, Ellsworth has yet to finish below the top-two spots. The Eagles claimed second at the Maine Cheer Coaches Association Showcase and Penobscot Valley Conference championships Jan. 6 and Jan. 20, respectively, and took first place at the Jan. 12 Big East championships.
“Our theme this season has been about one word: work,” Ellsworth co-coach Kat Dickens said. “They’ve put in so much effort, and it’s been paying off for them every week.”
Ellsworth has been one of Class B North’s best teams for years now, and this year’s team has been no different. Amidst a changing cheer scene that has included a new score sheet and various other developments, the Eagles have cemented their place among the state’s elite.
“The girls feed off each other’s friendship and energy,” Dickens said. “They have a special bond on and off the mat, and that’s helped them be very successful.”
MDI finished fourth at the competition with 65.9 points. That result was the achievement of a season-long goal for the Trojans, who have narrowly missed out on top-six finishes in recent years.
“We hit on nearly all of our stunts, which is really something we’ve been doing well the entire year,” MDI head coach Missy Leland said. “There was one where we were a bit early, but we were still able to stick with it and have the finish to the routine we needed.”
Old Town (third place), Gardiner (fifth) and Erskine Academy (sixth) joined Ellsworth, MDI and Hermon as state meet qualifiers in Class B. John Bapst, Foxcroft, Mount View, Caribou, Nokomis, Washington Academy, Winslow and Waterville rounded the rest of the field.
Sumner placed third in Class C North in the afternoon with 65.5 points to book its own trip to the state championships. That finish continued an outstanding year for a Sumner team that won the Downeast Athletic Conference championships Jan. 12 and took second in Class C at PVCs.
Mattanawcook Academy (first place), Central (second), Houlton (fourth), Calais (fifth) and Orono (sixth) also qualified for the state meet in Class C. Seventh-place Bucksport finished just short of qualification, scoring 50.7 points to fall 2.4 short of the Red Riots.
In Class D North, the Deer Isle-Stonington Mariners qualified with 42.5 points. The team’s fifth-place finish sent it to states along with Penobscot Valley (first), Central Aroostook (second), Machias (third), Bangor Christian (fourth) and Woodland (sixth).
The state championship meet will be held Feb. 10. Warm-ups will begin at 8:45 a.m., and competition for Class B and Class C teams will follow at 10. The Class D competition will begin at 2 p.m. following an intermission.
“It’s going be a very competitive field this year across the state,” Dickens said. “A lot of teams have stepped it up, and everyone is out with something to prove.”