AUGUSTA — Fresh after digging out from Friday’s snowstorm, Midcoast high school cheerleaders will converge on the state capital for their first official foray into the winter competition season.

Normally a Martin Luther King Jr. Day-extravaganza, this year’s Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A and B cheering championships will take place on Saturday, Jan. 21 at 2:30 p.m. at the Augusta Civic Center.

Medomak Valley’s Heaven Luce. Photo by Ken Waltz

And Medomak Valley of Waldoboro, the reigning state, regional and conference champions, look for more of the same as the Panthers eye their seventh straight league title and ninth since 2011.

Fourteen teams will vie for the KVAC Class B title — including Belfast, Oceanside of Rockland, Mount View of Thorndike and Medomak Valley — while the KVAC Class A title and the Western Maine Conference (WMC) titles also will be decided at the venue on that day.

Seven KVAC Class A teams and four WMC teams fill out the 25-team field.

Medomak Valley’s Peyton Eaton. Photo by Ken Waltz

The conference championships are a precursor to the regional competitions, where the top six teams from each region will advance to their state competitions.

Medomak Valley, in addition to being the reigning conference champions, are the defending Class B South and Class B state champions.

Last season, Belfast finished seventh at the KVACs, while Mount View and Oceanside did not participate.

The Mustangs did not take part after many members of the team contacted COVID-19, while the Mariners opted not to compete due to lack of experience.

Medomak Valley’s Jaiden Herrick. Photo by Ken Walz

Team members for Medomak Valley, led by veteran coaches Heather Simmons and Leeann Benner, include Aaliyah Thompson, Skylah Ward, Braelyn Hood, Hope Mason, Samantha Richardson, Jaiden Herrick, Arden Kondracki, Peyton Eaton and Heaven Luce.

Team members for Oceanside, led by first-year coach Jacqueline Weaver, include Laney King, Allie Colburn, Ashleigh Cronin, Shayenne Walpen, Lore Salaberria Larre, Manoka Inoue, Zaileyana Robbins, Amira Marks, Sophia Clayton, Ryan Allyn and Morgan Erickson.

Team members for Belfast, led by coach Chelsea Morrison, include Marina Bannister, Malia Beadling, Angela Benitez, Gemma Bradney, Nora Burgess, Gracee Cayouette, Addie Ford, Rebeca Gary, Mylee Henderson, Annabelle Lisa, Miles Mailloux, Neveah Martin, Leah Moores, Heaven Reynolds and Jillian Webster.

Team members for Mount View, led by coach Carol Bryant, include Sydney Bishop, Ethan Bryant, Eliana Rumney, Hailie Howe, Tiara Dinsmore, Makayla Killam, Layla McCormick, Alex Moreland, Idella Spaulding and Shoshanna Dallal.

Medomak Valley’s Heaven Luce. Photo by Ken Waltz

Simmons said practices have been a struggle thus far the season. Not only do the Panthers have only nine cheerleaders, but they have struggled “to maintain conditioning with absences from long colds and the flu. Hopefully we are past this and can have consistency in attendance.”

She said: “This year’s routine is fast-paced and when executed hits all the elements we need to be a top-seeded Class B team.”

“As with every year the only thing we can control is ourselves,” she said. “I am hoping for a clean and confident performance.  The rest will fall into place if we can be focused and believe in ourselves.”

Morrison said the Lions have had similar issues as practices have been limited by multiple illnesses.

She added with 14 team members — with 12 set to take the mat on Saturday led by Benitez and Lisa — this year’s “routine is more difficult, energetic and fast-paced compared to last year.”

“Our hope for Saturday is a clean performance that the team is proud of,” she said. “We have seven freshmen who will be in their first competition ever.”

The Mariners competed in the KVAC championships briefly in 2020, but it was their lone competitive performance since the 2014 season.

“Practices have been going well,” said Weaver. “We have had a few hiccups, including a few people ending their time on the team, which has very been very hard to recover from. We have a team of all new cheerleaders and we went from not even able to do a thigh stand to having a one-legged prep stunt.”

Weaver hopes to build a cheer culture for the future at OHS, though none of 11 cheerleaders on this year’s team — including captains Colburn, Cronin and King — have competition experience.

Despite being the first scheduled squad to hit the mats on Saturday, Weaver said her team is excited to take part and they plan “to have fun and learn what a competition is all about.”

“Fans can expect to see smiles, passion, and lots pride for Oceanside,” she said. “Our entire team has improved so much over the last two months and I am so proud of where we are at this moment.”

For the league competition, Oceanside will take the floor at 2:30 p.m., while Mount View will follow at 3:54 p.m.; Medomak Valley, 4:06 p.m.; and Belfast, 4:30 p.m.

Attempts to obtain comments for Mount View were unsuccessful.