BANGOR – For the Calais cheerleading squad, winning Wednesday night at the Eastern Maine Cheerleading Championships meant portraying the confidence of their sick coach in a near-perfect routine.
For Old Town, winning at the Bangor Auditorium meant injecting confidence into a routine that came crashing down in the preliminary round when two of its pyramids fell.
Both Calais and Old Town accomplished their goals as the Devils won their second Eastern Maine cheerleading title and the Indians won their first by pulling off a strong performance in the final.
Calais won with 67 points ahead of defending state champion Woodland, which had 66. Mattanawcook of Lincoln finished third with 60.3 points, while Washington Academy of East Machias was fourth with 57.7.
Old Town won the Class B title with a perfect rebound performance and 75.3 points. Defending state champion Houlton was second with 74 points, Rockland third with 73.7, and Ellsworth finished fourth with 70.3.
All eight teams will compete in the Feb. 8 state championship at Bangor Auditorium.
In both the preliminary round and the final round, Calais displayed strong pyramids while those at the top of the well-balanced human structures performed splits. But then, the Devils were full of fortitude and determined to win for coach Terry Ryan, who was in the hospital with complications from diabetes.
“We were strong because we did it for our coach,” Calais senior Tonya Kelley said with a quivering voice. “This was her first year. She has a lot of confidence in us and that’s the most important thing for a coach to have.”
For the Indians, winning was more of a hard-fought battle than an inspirational mission. After dropping two pyramids in the preliminary rounds, they went into the final round tied for third – but six points behind Houlton.
“We knew we could do a lot better. When we dropped those pyramids, that dropped us down in a lot of categories,” Old Town senior Sara Avery said.
The Indians came back with clean, strong pyramids – that moved as those doing the holding rotated the acrobats on top.
They had four cheerleaders performing rarely seen stunts with roundoff back handsprings, while one Indian shocked the crowd with a roundoff back layout (a back flip with no tuck).
What’s more, most of the Indians’ stunts were to rapid-fast dance songs such as “Love Shack.”
“Overall, our confidence and timing was much better,” Avery said. “We danced to fast songs because it gets the crowd into it – it’s a crowd motivator.”
Only two-thirds of the teams in the preliminary rounds could hold their pyramids – and in the final only six of the 13 teams could keep their pyramids from falling.
MCI was the sentimental favorite in the preliminary round. The crowd clapped for the mini-squad of six Huskies who managed to create three pyramids despite their scarce numbers.
Katahdin broke from the norm by doing much of its routine to the Black Crows’ “Jealousy” rather than a hip-hop tune.
Not an entirely bad way to pick a winner when you consider three teams cheered to the currently hip “Space Jam” and four teams used sound bites from ESPN’s raucous college basketball announcer, Dick Vitale, in their cheering medleys.