Includes video, photos

KVAC cheering championships: Panthers second, Mariners back in competition

Injury to team member 24 hours before competition hampers Medomak Valley's bid to repeat as champs
By Ken Waltz and Mark Haskell | Jan 20, 2020
Photo by: Mark Haskell Scene from Medomak Valley in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B high school cheering championships on Jan. 20 at the Augusta Civic Center. Panther Katie Ryan is in front of her teammates.

Augusta — When the annual Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B high school cheering championships twisted, turned, tumbled and danced in on Monday, Jan. 20, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, one Midcoast squad hoped to continue its dominance at the event and another simply looked to enjoy a return to the competition.

One of those quests came true and the other nearly did — despite a bit of adversity.

Medomak Valley of Waldoboro looked to win its sixth straight league crown and eighth since 2011, while Oceanside of Rockland was simply delighted to be back in the competitive spirit after years on the sidelines.

Watch videos below of Medomak Valley and Oceanside routines. See more photos below.

The Panthers faced adversity but still nearly pulled off the title — losing to winner Leavitt of Turner by 0.90 of a point in the competition at the Augusta Civic Center. The Mariners finished 15th (last) in their first time back at the event in years.

Medomak Valley lost one of its top team members — Emily Mahoney — for the competition as she broke her hand in two places on Sunday, Jan. 19 in a cheering showcase at the school.

That development left the Panthers with less than 24 hours to rework a routine they had practiced all season.

“Resiliency, pride and trust were all displayed by every one of my kids today,” said Medomak Valley coach Heather Simmons. “Our motto has been ‘together’ all season because in cheer, it takes 100 percent of the team at all times. There are no subs, no timeouts and all you’ve got is one shot and you have to be all in.”

Mahoney injured her hand working on a back handspring at a friends and family showcase at MVHS on Sunday Jan. 19 — less than 24 hours before the competition — leaving Simmons and the Panthers scrambling.

Aaliyah Thompson was inserted into the reworked routine and Chloe Achorn “switched to a base to make the pyramid work," the coach said.

“Everyone had to have faith in their teammates that although some had new positions, that we were going to be collectively responsible and trust in each other that this was going to work,” said Simmons. “It’s stressful enough to compete and now it was going to be a lot tougher.”

Simmons said while losing by such a small margin was difficult for her and her team, “We will be reworking a few more things for the [regional] championships on Saturday, letting 0.9 keep us motivated all week.”

Medomak Valley, coached by Simmons and Rachel Coor, include Cheyanne Greene, Katie Ryan, Haley Levasseur, Greg Cifaldo, Achorn, Mahoney, Lizzie Swan, Laci Peavey, Katrina McIntosh, Lachey Sawyer and Thompson.

Oceanside, coached by Stefani Gundel, include Steffani Jillison, Arianna Cloutier, Kelsie Morin, Catriona Burnett, Maddie Gibbs, Madison Vitale and Mollie Vitale.

Gundel said that "the girls did well" in their return to competitive cheering. Oceanside dropped out of competitive cheering in 2014 due to lack of numbers. However, despite their last-place finish on Monday, the Mariners know the only way the program can go is up.

"We know that we have skills we need to build on in tumbling and stunting in order to score and place higher, but those are skills that will take time to build," the coach said. "That is one reason I am looking forward to the future of this program. Our squad will only get better and our skills will only become more complex. All of that leads to higher scores."

Oceanside had a five-point deduction on a stunt dismount, but Gundel said "we will be practicing so that no deductions take place at regionals."

Monday's KVAC Class B championship team scores, with school, individual scores from the four judges, deductions and final score listed, included: Leavitt, 17.9, 18.8, 20.4 and 20.1 for 77.2; Medomak Valley, 20.2, 18.4, 18 and 19.7 for 76.3; Brewer, 11.6, 18, 19.2 and 15.1 for 63.9; Lawrence of Fairfield, 11.8, 19.3, 16.5 and 16.1 for 63.7; Erskine Academy of South China, 11.6, 16.4, 16.7 and 16.5 for 61.2; Morse of Bath, 11.8, 18, 16.5 and 17.5 for 63.8 (5-point deduction) for 58.8; Nokomis of Newport, 11.5, 16.5, 14.8 and 15.5 for 58.2; Mount Blue of Farmington, 13.9, 17.3, 15.5 and 11.4 for 58.1; Cony of Augusta, 6.6, 13.5, 13.7 and 14.9 for 48.7 (1-point deduction) for 47.7; Winslow, 11.6, 13.4, 14.5 and 13.1 for 52.6 (5-point deduction) for 47.6; Lincoln Academy of Newcastle, 7.3, 11.4, 10.5 and 12.8 for 42; Belfast, 6.9, 11.4, 12.4 and 8.2 for 38.9; Mount View, 9.3, 11, 3.8 and 10.8 for 34.9; Gardiner, 7.1, 11.5, 10.4 and 4.3 for 33.3 (5-point deduction) for 29.6; and Oceanside, 5.6, 10, 9.4 and 9.6 for 34.6 (5-point deduction) for 29.6.

At the same venue on the same day, Oxford Hills of South Paris finished first in the KVAC Class A competition and Gray-New Gloucester wore the Western Maine Conference crown.

The Jamie Beth Shible awards went to Edward Little of Auburn in Class A and Nokomis  in Class B. Those recognitions are presented annually to the teams which demonstrate the most improvement from the previous year.

Shible, a co-captain of the Mount Blue cheering squad, died on Memorial Day 1997 from bacterial meningitis, 24 hours after her Junior-Senior Prom and days before the end of her junior year.

Next up the the Midcoast cheerleaders is the Class B South championship competition on Saturday. Jan. 25 back at the Augusta Civic Center, followed by the state Class B championships on Saturday, Feb. 8 in Augusta.

Oceanside and Medomak Valley are expected to compete in the regional event but must qualify from there to the states.

Courier Publications' sports staff can be reached by email at sports@villagesoup.com or by phone at 594-4401.

Medomak Valley cheering
Medomak Valley cheering routine at league championship competition on Jan. 20 at the Augusta Civic Center. (Video by: Mark Haskell and Zack Miller)
Oceanside cheering routine
Oceanside cheering routine at league championship competition on Jan. 20 at the Augusta Civic Center. (Video by: Mark Haskell and Zack Miller)
Scene from Oceanside in the league cheering championships in Augusta. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Oceanside in the league cheering championships in Augusta. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Oceanside in the league cheering championships in Augusta. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Oceanside in the league cheering championships in Augusta. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Oceanside in the league cheering championships in Augusta. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Oceanside in the league cheering championships in Augusta. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Oceanside in the league cheering championships in Augusta. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Oceanside in the league cheering championships in Augusta. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Oceanside in the league cheering championships in Augusta. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Medomak Valley in the league cheering championships in Augusta. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Medomak Valley in the league cheering championships in Augusta. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Medomak Valley in the league cheering championships in Augusta. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Medomak Valley in the league cheering championships in Augusta. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Medomak Valley in the league cheering championships in Augusta. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Medomak Valley in the league cheering championships in Augusta. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Medomak Valley in the league cheering championships in Augusta. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Medomak Valley in the league cheering championships in Augusta. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Medomak Valley in the league cheering championships in Augusta. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
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