Annandale High School's boys gymnastics team would like to own the honor as Virginia's very last state championship squad.

Boys gymnastics is being phased out on the state level after this season because of a decline in participation throughout Virginia. Maryland already has dropped boys gymnastics.

The Northern Region, which is divided into the Northeast and Northwest sections, has most of the 11 teams that still compete in the state.

"It is extremely difficult to secure coaches and (there is) a lack of interest on the high school level," said Clarence A. Jones, Official's Programs Supervisor for the Virginia High School League. "I think (gymnastics) will continue in the Northern Region and they will continue to be competitive."

Jim Duby, Robert Snow and David Strum all are solid and have the consistency to carry Annandale to the state title. Snow, a junior, performs highly advanced tricks for the high school level, including a double back handspring on the parallel bars. Coach Bob Lamons considers Snow comparable to an Olympic-level gymnast.

Lamons expects Duby, who excels on high bar and floor exercise, to place in both the sectional and state meets. Strum, a junior, has a high-scoring parallel routine. The parallel bars has been a perennial strong event for the Atoms.

"I'd like to see a state title for Annandale," said Duby. "We've always set our standards for sectionals, now we are (setting them) for states."

To advance to the state tournament, Annandale will need to finish as one of the top two schools in its section.

The Atoms could receive their strongest competition from Lake Braddock and Hayfield.

The Bruins' Blair Marshall is averaging 45 points as an all-around and is able to perform full value routines, which include double back dismounts off the rings and the parallel bars. Also, Marshall executes a full twist handspring off the vault. He has captured the all-around title three times in as many meets this season.

Hayfield has won its two duel meets and finished second in a tri-meet to Herndon. Ross Younger performs as an all-around for the Hawks.

Vaulting is Woodson's strength and the Cavaliers have Ben Bartlett as an all-around.

The Northwestern Section is dominated by Herndon and South Lakes.

Herndon, winning its first four meets, returns Eric Haney and Shane Eddy. Both Haney and Eddy are averaging nearly 40 points as all-arounds.

"Eric's technique and kinetic awareness is very good," said Coach Mike Comini. "I anticipate taking the sectional meet and naturally we're going to try to win (the state tournament)."

The Hornets' strongest event is the floor exercise, on which they are averaging 20 points.

South Lakes, which is the 1984 Virginia State runner-up behind Clover Hill of Richmond, has Richard Suter, one of the best performers in the region.

Suter, a junior, performs a handspring front dismount off the vault and is able to get good height in his floor exercise. Ray Quintavell, the Seahawks all-around state champion, graduated.

Chantilly, Wakefield, Yorktown and Washington-Lee have young teams and are competitive with each other.