BANGOR, Maine — The more things change … the more they stay the same.
Case in point? The Central Aroostook cheering squad.
Saturday’s regional Class D cheering competition may have been held at the new Cross Insurance Center, but the outcome was the same for the Central Aroostook Panthers. CAHS captured the regional crown in commanding fashion and will now look to bring home its sixth state championship in seven years when the squad travels to the Augusta Civic Center on Saturday, Feb. 8 at 10 a.m.
CAHS blew away the competition in the Class D ranks scoring 123.1 points to easily outdistance themselves from second-place Machias, 99.6.
Washburn and Fort Fairfield also qualified for States as the top eight teams advance to the state competition. Other team scores were: Penobscot Valley 95.6, Washburn 92.3, Bangor Christian 91.4, Deer Isle-Stonington 91.3, Fort Fairfield 90.2, Buckfield 78.8, Woodland 76.8 and Rangeley 64.8.
Last year, the Panthers finished as runners-up at both the state and regional competitions for the first time in years. CAHS won the state title from 2008-2012.
“This was huge for us,” said CAHS’ senior Colby Endy, the lone male member of the Panther cheering squad. “We worked so hard on it this year. We wanted to try new things and find out where the new freshmen fit in to the routine.”
“Winning this, is the best feeling in the world,” added senior Alexis Bradbury. “Last year was a big disappointment for sure. But it just showed us that we need to push harder for what we want.”
Considering the amount of work CAHS puts into perfecting its routine, the success should come as no surprise.
“We practice harder and harder every year,” said assistant coach Janice Mosher. “We practice six days a week for two to two-and-a-half hours a day.”
Mosher said this season has been a bit of a struggle as two members — senior Brittney Drost and junior Shannon Scully — sustained concussions and had to sit out for a few weeks.
After finishing as runner-up last year, the Panthers came into this season hungry to reclaim the state title.
“It’s always good to finish on top and when you are used to it and you get second, it gives you the extra drive to be on top again,” Mosher said.
Coach Sami Allen said both she and Mosher will scrutinize their routine over the next two weeks, looking at areas they can improve.
Members of the Panthers include Whitnie Bradbury, Jordan Canney, Alexis Bradbury, Brittney Drost, Colby Endy, Megan King, Courtney Milliard, Shannon Scully, Victoria Brewer, Elizabeth Gillen, Dayna Collins, Hallee Rusby, Sarah Gerritsen, Noelle Bailey, Haley Rowe and Emilee Durost.
The fourth-place Washburn team features Kaylee Doody, Mikayla Churchill, Tiffany Bragg, Caitlyn Roix, Jacqueline McCarthy, Tanya Tarbox, Mariena Bragg and Courtney Cannon. The coaches are Heather Bragg and Michaela Bragg.
“The girls did an amazing job,” said Heather Bragg. “This was only the third year that we have competed and for some it was their first year. They nailed a clean routine we are very proud of them. We will be adding some difficulty and a few surprises into our state competition routine.”
The Fort Fairfield squad, which came in seventh, includes Megan Berube, Kasidie Chapman, Kailanny Hernandez, Stephanie Parady, Meghan Everitt, Rebecca Theriault, Sarah Owens, Paige Worcester, Gabrielle Wortman, Kalena Pearce, Marisa Clark and Ciara Campbell. The Tigers are coached by Rachel Emery.