AUGUSTA — After a one-year hiatus, competitive, in-person, high school cheering is set to return to large, statewide venues.

The Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A and B championships will take place on Saturday, Jan. 22 at the Augusta Civic Center.

The event originally was scheduled for Monday, Jan. 17, but was postponed due to inclement weather.

Tentatively, in the conference championship, for Midcoast teams, Mount View of Thorndike is scheduled to perform at 10:12 a.m., Medomak Valley at 10:36 a.m. and Belfast at 11:24 a.m. Oceanside of Rockland has a cheer program but will not participate in competitions this year.

Regional championship competitions are set for Saturday, Jan. 29, with the top six from both regions (north and south) to compete in the state championships on Saturday, Feb. 12 at the Augusta Civic Center.

Medomak Valley competes in Class B South, Belfast in Class B North and Mount View in Class C North.

The Class B and C North will be at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor, while Class B South will take place at the Augusta Civic Center.

Last year, regional and state championship competition were held virtually (no league meet), as each team sent a video of their performance — held in the school’s gymnasiums — to be judged. This was due to the pandemic, which affected many sports last winter and most sports as a whole since March 2020.

While COVID-19 still prevalent and affecting — and infecting — people, teams are preparing to mask-up and take the floor in front or large crowds again after a year of virtual competition.

And local teams have been affected.

“This has been a very difficult season,” said Medomak Valley coach Heather Simmons. “I am sure most teams have had to deal with COVID, but I have had two cases of strep [throat] and five cases of COVID, including myself, and numerous quarantines. Currently we are about two weeks behind in the season of being prepared. There is nothing anyone can do about it and you just pray your team dodges the bullet before you have to compete.”

The Panthers have won five straight league championships and seven since 2011, 10 straight regional titles and annually are in the mix for the state Class B crown, including a runner-up finish in last year’s virtual state championships.

“We have a very difficult routine for this season and are in hopes to compete at a high level,” Simmons said. “This season the judges increased how many stunting elements need to be in the routine, which has added another level of stress to this season. I hope all teams get an opportunity to compete at regionals.”

“Practices have been going great,” said Belfast co-coach Chelsea Morrison. “We’ve been very fortunate to be minimally affected by the pandemic. We’ve only had two girls quarantined over winter break. They work super hard and as a new team, only being in our fifth year, they’ve progressed a little more every year. I’m very proud of them.”

“We have worked really hard to get the program where it is now,” said Lion co-coach Alyssa Harriman. “This year we have almost doubled our number of kids participating.”

“This is a first year for many of my athletes competing in-person,” said Mount View coach Carol Bryant. “I have a equal mix of returning veterans and new athletes. We are focused on fundamentals, bonding and growing as a team. Very proud of the athletes hard work and dedication.”

Oceanside High School also has a cheer team, but they have opted not to participate in competitions this season. Coach Stefani Gundel said her team “is still in the rebuilding phase of competition cheer.”

“We are building a strong, talented team,” she said. “We want to feel confident that our team is able to compete on a competitive level. With all of the unknowns that come with COVID, we did not feel this was the year to jump back into the competition side of cheer.”

Team members for Medomak Valley, coached by Simmons, include Greg Cifaldo, Emily Mahoney, Lizzi Swan, Chloe Acorn, Aaliyah Thompson, Skyla Ward, Samantha Richardson, Alyssa Grindle, Braelyn Hood, Hope Mason and Ashlyn Ward.

Team members for Mount View, coached by Carol Bryant, Julie Aspinall and Britni Bryant, include Emma McPherson, Alexa Coffin, Kayla Holcomb, Macala Parks, Kelsea Doughty, Lexi Cluney, Sydney Bishop, Desirae Brown, Ethan Bryant, Kaylee Hamilton, Eliana Rumney, Camille Dumais and Hailie Howe.

Team members for Belfast, coached by Morrison and Harriman, include Sierra Davis, Catrina Mathis, Angela Benitez, Gemma Bradney, Harley Wellman, Kaylee Henderson, Annabelle Lisa, Kody Mailloux, Marina Bannister, Mali Inman, Becca Gary, Leah Moores and Nevaeh Bradstreet.

Team members for Oceanside, coached by Gundel, include Addie Hendricks, Alice Attollino, Alyssa Griffin, Ann Killeran, Ashleigh Cronin, Chloe Drinkwater, Giuliana Galiza, Haley Black, Kiara Woodbury, Laney King, Madison Gibbs, Sophia Clayton and Zaileyana Robbins.