Robinson's gymnastic team had expected to successfully defend its AAA state title this winter on the basis of its largest turnout ever.

But off its recent fifth-place finish in the South Lakes Invitational -- the first major meet -- the Rams could be in trouble.

Lake Braddock finished first followed by South Lakes, Stafford and West Springfield.

Before it can think about defending its state title, Robinson will have to prove it is better than Northern District rivals Lake Braddock, Robinson and West Springfield.

Lake Braddock, which has lost Cheri Tester to club competition, appears even stronger with returning Lisa Zucker, who competed in club gymnastics last winter. As a sophomore, Zucker led her team two years ago to the state championship.

Zucker has a strong balance beam exercise which includes a front tuck mount and a double back handspring.

Last year, South Lakes won all six of its dual meets and finished second in the district. This winter, the team is stronger with all-around gymnasts Laurie Carter, Lisa Pepple and Cristin Dadant return.

Stafford, which won the Commonwealth District a year ago has sisters Kim and Angie Sullivan.

West Springfield has all-arounds Susie Sedlezek and Pam Robbins.

Junior all-around Cherylynn Lillvik and junior Tamar Snyder lead Robinson.

Another top performer is Oakton's Angel Bursenos, who scored 9.5 on the vault at the state meet.

In the Potomac District, Annandale, which finshed second a year ago, could challenge with all-around Dianna Hepner and sophomore Marie Green.

Hepner and Green placed one-two in all-around competition in Annandale's only dual meet this season. At the South Lakes meet, Hepner took first on the vault.

Chantilly returns all-arounds Jennifer Chipps, Robyn Clarke and Margaret Martin. Chipps,.

Fairfax has all-arounds Becky Holzberlein and Kathleen Ku.

In the Great Falls District, it is unlikely that Herndon, last year's champion, will challenge South Lakes with Lisa Murphy and Terry Ward out with injuries.

All-around Ruth Goldsmith, an individual competitor on bars last year at the state meet, leads Washington-Lee.

Yorktown Coach Dea Smith says she believes her team is the best its been in 10 years. Catherine Holland, Carolyn Handy and Ann Hughes lead the Patriots.

In the Gunston District, Edison, last year's first place finisher, has most of its veterans back, including Kristen Dupree, who has qualified as an individual in the regional tournament for three years.

Terry Peyton, Mount Vernon's coach, plans on winning the Gunton title with the help of the powerful 4-foot-9 Julie Gilbert and all-around Amy Foster.

Lynn Dreylinger, last year's state champion on the beam with a 9.15, heads Fort Hunt's young team.

Last year's all-around state champion (35.9), Jeanne Foster, returns to Lee.

In the Commonwealth District, Woodbridge, which finished second in the district and region, will challenge Stafford with 5-foot all-around Merry Moos.

Osbourn Park, which will be competing as a AAA school for the first time, has Angie Fontana back. She took last year's first-place AA all-around title with a score of 34.65, which included a first in floor exercise (9.3).

In the AA Northwestern District, Park View, last year's first-place district and second-place regional finisher, has seniors Kim Booth and Monica Ginder for strong performances.

Loudoun Valley has Brooke Drenning (vault) and Robin Hinkle (beam) .