By finishing as runners-up in Saturday morning’s Western Class B cheering competition at the Augusta Civic Center, Medomak Valley accomplished something no Panther cheering team had in the school’s more than 40-year history.

The Panthers put it all together during their performance Saturday to earn the team’s first state competition berth.

Mount View of Thorndike and Rockland also competed in the Eastern Class B cheering competition at the Bangor Auditorium the same morning, but neither squad qualified for the states.

It was the first time the Panthers had competed in Western Class B. Medomak Valley had competed in Eastern Class B in previous years.

Medomak Valley will compete in the state meet on Saturday, Feb. 6 at 2 p.m. at the Augusta Civic Center. The Panthers, Tigers and Mustangs also will compete in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B competition on Saturday, Jan. 30 at the Augusta Civic Center. The league meet was postponed from Jan. 18 due to inclement weather.

The Panthers should be among the favorites to win the league crown, along with Waterville and a few other teams. Waterville is led by first-year coach Andrea Fullerton, who is a 2000 graduate of Rockland District High School.

Also competing at the KVACs will be defending conference champion Waterville, Oak Hill of Sabattus, Gardiner, Winslow and Maine Central Institute of Pittsfield, among others. Last season, Medomak Valley finished second in the KVACs behind Waterville, while Mount View was third.

The top-six team scores from Saturday’s Western Class B competition in Augusta, which included 14 teams and only one round of competition (top six teams move on to states) were: Poland 140, Medomak Valley 129.7, Leavitt of Turner 126.7, Mountain Valley of Rumford 126.7, Oak Hill of Sabattus 119.9 and Wells 115. Other teams competing were York, Greely of Cumberland, Lisbon, Winslow, Gray-New Glaucester, Fryeburg Academy and one other squad.

“We’ve told the girls for three months now that if they were perfect they would be tough to beat, and today they did exactly what they needed to do,” said second-year Panther coach Rachel Coor. “Everything was right on. We knew coming in that we didn’t have the difficutly in tumbling that other teams do but our goal was to make up those points in the other categories. We executed really well in dance, stunts and jumps. Poland was great — they have solid skills and a good routine — and they would’ve had to have had a really bad day for us to beat them.”

The coach added, “Honestly, these kids would have been happy with a sixth-place finish. The goal from day one has been just to qualify for states. So being [regional] runners-up, it’s almost ubelievable. What a huge day for them and for the program.”

The Eastern Class B team scores from Bangor were: Hermon 140, Ellsworth 136.9, Presque Isle 133, Caribou 131.7, Waterville 130.9, John Bapst of Bangor 126.7, Old Town 124.8, Mount Desert Island 116.2, Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln 108.8, Nokomis of Newport 105.9, Rockland 104.2, Mount View 103.4, Bucksport 100.2 and Maine Central Institute of Pittsfield 93.8. The top six teams move on to the state competition.

The Medomak Valley cheering program has thrived since Coor took the reins last season, finishing second in the KVACs and placing eighth at the regional competition. The number of participants in the program also has risen considerably, and the Panthers had, for the first time this year, a team cheering in the fall at soccer games and cross-country meets.

Coor was also an assistant coach to mother Mary Sidelinger years ago at Rockland, as the mother and daughter helped guide RDHS to eight KVAC titles, two Eastern Class B crowns and a state title in 2003.

Team members for Medomak Valley this winter include Jennifer Sykes, Kerry O’Donnell, Chelsey Coburn, Danielle Moshier, Taylor Pelkey, Brittany Alexander, Savannah Chamberlain, Chelsea Wedge, Danica Bryant, Kayla Winchenbach, Michaela Melody, Chelsea Creamer, Skylar Carroll, Jennifer Delano, Sara French, Megan Boyington, Charlene Wilbur, Nicole Angelico, Mollie Strunk and Kelsie Grady.

This year’s Tiger squad, led by sixth-year coach Becky Howard, is back in competition after taking a year off due to the lack of numbers. This year’s Rockland team is comprised of 11 team members, eight of whom are freshmen. Howard was not only pleased with her squad’s efforts on the mat Saturday, but ecstatic to be back in the field of competition.

“It feels great,” she said. “Last year, sitting in the stands was kind of an eye-opener of how lucky we are to have this program going. It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s also very rewarding. Not having a team to work with last year I worked a lot with the middle school team knowing that they’d be coming up [this] year. And I think it’s paid off, and I’m really proud of them.”

Howard added that she and her girls plan to look through the judges’ comments, and hope to improve on Saturday’s score next week at the KVAC competition.

“All the comments I’m looking at on these scoresheets are the same things I’ve been telling them over and over again,” she said. “So coming from somebody else, it tends to have a little bit more of an effect. I’d like us to try and get a perfect routine next week. We’re going to shoot for perfection.”

Prior to sitting out last season, Rockland finished second to Oak Hill in the 2008 KVAC competition and won the league crown the season before.

Team members for Rockland this winter include Lindsey Davenport, Guiliana Hantz, Lexi Evans, Teal Finley, Liz Fletcher, Hannah Kutschinski, Sierra Robinson, Tori Julian, Caroline Luttrell, Chelsea Keyes and Jackie McNulty.

Mount View, led by third-year coach Carol Bryant, finished third in the KVAC championships last season and 11th at the Eastern Class B regional competition.

“I think we did really good,” said Bryant. “It was the first time we cleanly went through everything and we had the enthusiasm and did it to their potential.”

Bryant was particularly proud of the routine because it was one the student-athletes came up with on their own.

“We did everything from scratch and we take a lot of pride in that,” said Bryant. “We did it all ourselves and chose their own music and it really had its own flavor to it. We’re going to clean it up for next week, add a little more difficulty to [the routine] and push through it. They’re really excited.”

Team members for Mount View this winter include Travis Cole, Molli McCormick, Marissa Bryant, Hayle Grover, Dyllan Suiter, Shelby Murdock, Brittany Flewelling, Amanda Barnes, Brittany Raven, Sarah Wilson, Sherriayn Spencer, Hailey Giggey, Alyssa Schiessl, Makayla McCormick, Danielle Lefebvre, Lindsey Lizotte, Katie Ross and Alyssa Crooker.

Additional photos from Medomak Valley’s participation in the Western Class B cheering competition were unavailable.

Click for photos from the Eastern Class B cheering competition.

Village NetMedia sports staff can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail at sports@villagesoup.com.