Cherylynn Lillvik paces back and forth to the side of the floor exercise mat in the Robinson High School gymnasium, waiting for the judges to turn in the scores for the previous gymnast.
It's Lillvik's turn to perform. She moves to the center of the mat, standing poised, her head lifted and her arms bent upward at the elbow.
As a judge signals for Lillvik to begin her routine, she moves her left arm forward and her right arm back, arching her back at the same time. She lifts herself onto her tiptoes, taking a half turn and bringing both arms down.
After a double twist, Lillvik takes several steps back and within a couple of seconds propels herself from one corner of the mat to the opposite. Her performance earns her a near perfect score, like hundreds of other routines that have helped make her Northern Virginia's top high school gymnast.
This year she captured Northern District and Northern Region all-around titles -- the highest individual honor of the Virginia AAA High School League.
At the district meet Lillvik led all gymnasts with 35.6 points, and at the regional meet she won three of the four events, averaging 9.36 on each to accumulate a 37.45 score. During regular season competition beginning in December, she won the all-around title in five of the six meets in which she was entered in all four events.
The 5-foot-4 senior helped Fairfax County's Robinson High win the Virginia AAA state championship two years ago in the 1983-84 season and will try to do the same this weekend when the Robinson Rams go to Virginia Beach for the 1986 state tournament.
Nothing holds her back. Lillvik is a risk taker.
She was caught doing handstands, skipping rope and doing pullups in a full cast after surgery to remove a growth from her right knee. At another time she split a full cast open when trying various tricks on the uneven bars.
"I'll try anything," said Lillvik.
"I just sit there and wait and make sure she gets up," said Lillvik's mother, Janet. "After an injury it's a real nerve-racking thing for a parent. We've been real lucky. She has a way of coming back from things."
But Lillvik is aware of the danger involved as a gymnast.
"I'm real careful on the beam," she said. "It scares me sometimes. It's only four inches wide."
This season Lillvik faced a major family crisis. In November her younger sister Pam was hit by a car and was in a coma for two weeks.
"I just did what I had to do," said Lillvik. "I had to do something to bring them my mom and dad joy by continuing to perform every week ."
As team captain, Lillvik is a natural leader, whether it's moving equipment between teammates' routines or comforting one of the gymnasts who has performed poorly.
"She is truly, sincerely interested in the other person," said Robinson coach Allan Lewis. "Her interest is in the team more than herself."
"She has so much positive energy in her," Lewis said. "As the captain she feels she needs to be an inspiration."
"If a teammate did one good thing, I point it out. I like to reassure them. I don't like to see people feeling bad about how they did," Lillvik said.
At 17, Lillvik exudes a lot of confidence and maturity. "She knows who she is and she likes herself," Lewis said.
Beyond her high school gym work, Lillvik is a member of Karons of the United States Gymnastics Federation, in which she is a Class 1 performer, the second highest USGF classification. Lillvik spends three days a week practicing with Karons and two days with the Rams, averaging more than 18 hours a week.
" Gymnastics has given me a lot of discipline," said Lillvik. "It's taught me how to act in front of people, how to manage my time, not to be scared of things."
In her limited free time, Lillvik sees her longtime boyfriend Gary, who is on the swim team. Some weeks the only time they see each other is at a gymnastics or swimming meet.
Lillvik maintains a 3.5 grade point average and hopes to receive a scholarship for gymnastics at one of the six universities to which she has applied to study physical therapy or sports medicine. She has been accepted to North Carolina State, Pittsburgh, Ohio State and Missouri, but she will not be notified about scholarship offers until the spring.
One of Lillvik's biggest fans is her father Larry. "My dad likes to go and sit in the cheering section. That's where I got my energy and humor," Lillvik said.
"We encourage her as much as we can. The drive has always been self-imposed," said Larry Lillvik. "It took longer for us to get confidence in her than for her to get confidence in her."