The Star-Herald

Young Panthers team captures middle school cheering crown

MARS HILL, Maine — Home court proved advantageous for the Central Aroostook Middle School cheering squad Monday night as the Panthers reclaimed the Aroostook League Middle School championship trophy.

Featuring the smallest squad of the four competing groups, the Panthers put forth an energetic and entertaining routine that featured a number of acrobatic stunts and plenty of tumbling.

Houlton cheerleaders lifted into the air are, from left, Olivia Drake, Avayah Norton, Ariana Ardell and Makala Sennett. (Joseph Cyr | Houlton Pioneer Times)

“We struggled a bit this year starting off with 13 girls and dropping to nine due to circumstances,” Central Aroostook coach Brittni Morrison said. “I had to change the routine several times. Also I only had two seventh-graders and seven sixth-graders with no eighth-graders at all so it was a very young team with all but three performing for the first time.”

Despite those challenges, the coach said the Panthers’ routine was spot on.

“I’m super proud of the girls,” she said. “We may not have had the most difficult routine, but we had a clean flawless routine. Also I believe having a smaller number of girls can go either way. With less girls, it’s easier to get everyone doing the same thing, but it also is a disadvantage because there are so few stunt options. Overall I think we did a wonderful job and I’m super proud of them.”

Members of the Central Aroostook squad include Julia Pierce, Harleigh Allen, Abigail Howlett, Maggie Mahan,  Destiny Woods, Rebecca Bell, Hannah Shaw, Victoria McCrum and Ela Gagne. 

Houlton Middle School finished as runners-up in the competition, which also featured Presque Isle and Caribou.

Presque Isle’s Mia Shaw points to the crowd during the Wildcats performance. (Joseph Cyr | Houlton Pioneer Times)

Members of the Houlton squad are Emma McCarthy, Ali Collins, Sophie Lorom, Olivia Cyr, Layla Burtt, Addyson Lynds, Avayah Norton, Hayden Belyea, Hannah Sutherland, Amelia Flewelling, Mataya Pinette, Ariana Ardell, Olivia Drake, Olivia Hallett, Makala Sennett, Kealy Britton, Jaycee Forest, Kenley Hatch and Elaina Olsen. The team is coached by Taylor Forest.

During Monday night’s event, each team performed its routine twice during the competition with the scores averaged to determine a winner. 

At the intermission, individual cheerleaders performed jumps and stunts. This year, the stunts were broken down by grade levels, with sixth, seventh and eighth-graders competing against one another.

In the sixth-grade jumps event, Mia Shaw of Presque Isle placed first, followed by Harleigh Allen of Central Aroostook and Sennett of Houlton.

Houlton’s Drake finished first in the seventh-grade jumps event, with Presque Isle’s Nyah Langley second. Caribou’s Claire Ouellette was the lone participant in the eighth-grade event.

Tumbling awards were also bestowed, with Shaw, Allen and Drake taking home medals. The Caribou stunt team of Ouellette, Haley Dumond, Khora Marker, Gwen Anderson and Ashley Hartsgrove won top honors in the stunt competition.

Members of the Presque Isle squad are Karee Bagley, Johanna Cote, MacKenzie Hallett, Nyah Langley, Marigan McBrearity, Lita Perkins, Lia Thurlow, Kimberly Caron, Kendal Fink, Liberty Herweh, Ashlee Lejman, Dakota Nash, Mia Shaw, and Akasha Walton. The coach is Laura Lejman.

Members of the Caribou squad are Claire Ouellette, Aidan Kelley, Mea Ouellette, Emily Fraser, Brenna Fox, Tiffany Bruce, Isabella Cherrier, Myniah Shaw, Kadence McDougal, Katie Ellis, Gwen Anderson, Haley Dumond, Allie White, Ashley Hartsgrove, Amanda Beckwith, Madelyn Cote, Taylor Gilliam, Jane Towle, Melonie Lapointe, Jaiden Proust and Khora Marker. The coach is Margeuax Beaulieu.

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