The double-front vault, which has been very good to South Lakes gymnast Richard Suter, continues to be very bad to the senior also.

Suter, who won the vaulting event last year in the National Boys Invitational, is questionable for Friday's Northern Region meet at South Lakes (6 p.m.) after spraining an ankle practicing the double-front vault before last week's Northwestern sectional qualifying meet.

Last summer, Suter broke the same ankle performing his specialty.

"Suter is the premier high school vaulter in the country," said his coach, Bob Graumann. "Not only is he one of the few people who can even do that vault, he is one of the few who will even try it."

Suter will be one of the favorites in the vault Friday if his ankle allows him to perform, but he is not considered a threat for the all-around title. Vying for the regional championship will be Marty Newsom of Herndon, who won the Northwestern sectional all-around with a combined 48.0; Shane Eddy of Herndon, who was second in 45.9; and Annandale's David Strum, who won the Northeastern sectional at Annandale last week with a 45.55 total.

Herndon won the Northwestern meet with a score of 138. Hayfield, with 125 points, and South Lakes, with 106, also qualified their teams for the regional meet. Annandale won the Northeastern sectional with a 127.55 score. Chantilly (104.35) and Yorktown (93.5) also qualified for the team competition.

Herndon -- with Newsom, Eddy and Eric Haney -- is expected to easily win the regional team title.

Last year, Annandale won the state title, but because of declining participation in boys gymnastics, the state meet was eliminated this year. Annandale Coach Bob Lamons said it has been difficult for some of his gymnasts to accept.

"It has been a definite letdown, especially to the older kids," said Lamons. "I expected to be in the top three in the state this year. That was always a goal and something to shoot for. Now we will end with the regionals and not get to go against some of the top kids from around the state. It's been pretty disappointing."

Like 100 or so other relay teams from several states on the East Coast who were upstaged by the better-prepared and more-talented teams from Jamaica, metropolitan area teams did not fare well in the relay events at the recent 92nd annual Penn Relays.

Several area athletes, however, more than distinguished themselves in individual events.

The top performance of the meet was turned in by Langley distance runner Erin Keogh. She set a meet record of 9:24.6 in the girls 3,000 meters. Her time was the 10th fastest ever by a high school girl, and she was named the female high school performer of the meet.

Wendy Neely of Lake Braddock was third in a time of 9:46.3, Tana Jo Clare of Robinson eighth in 10:06, and Karen Santacon of W.T. Woodson 15th in 10:21.3.

Lake Braddock's Dana Boone, the area's premier long jumper, won her specialty in 18 feet 9 1/4 inches. La Plata's Tracy Cooke was fourth with a jump of 18-2.

McDonough's Kelly Joyce was the shot put champion at 43-3. Woodbridge's Boo Rogers finished third in the girls high jump in 5-6 and Langley's Sharon Poole was fourth in the 1,500 final in 4:39.66.

In the relay events, St. Jago of Jamaica won the girls 4x100 in 45.87 and Vere Tech of Jamaica, seeking a fifth straight win in this event, was second in 46.98. Lake Braddock, the lone area qualifier for the final of any girls relay event, was fifth in 48.02.

In the 4x800 final, St. Jago won in 9:06.2. St. Elizabeth Tech finished second in 9:08.3 and Vere Tech was eighth in 9:31.0. Lake Braddock was ninth in 9:24.2.

The best 800 split of the meet was by St. Jago anchor Karen Bennett (2:10.3). Lake Braddock's Carthron Birge's 2:12.3 was second best.

In the 4x400 final, Vere Tech won in 3:43.6 and St. Elizabeth's was runner-up in 3:44.7.

Lake Braddock ran an area-best 3:52.9; Central ran 3:55.1. Other area times including Robinson in 3:57.3; Oxon Hill (3:59.0); Douglass (4:00.8); and H.D. Woodson (4:03.3).

In the boys individual events, Woodbridge's Chris Lockett won the pole vault by clearing 15-0 and teammate Kevin Berry tied for fourth in the high jump with a leap of 6-8. Berry was also sixth in the triple jump final with a distance of 46-6 2/3. Episcopal's Richard Beaver finished fifth in the 3,000.