An article in Thursday's Extra incorrectly reported that Loudoun Valley took second in the Red Division at The Washington Post/Loudoun Extra Invitational gymnastics competition at Park View on Jan. 8. Potomac Falls finished second; Loudoun Valley placed fourth. (Published 01/16/2000)
As the first squad to finish its rotation, the Broad Run High School gymnastics team was easy to spot Saturday at The Washington Post/Loudoun Extra Invitational at Park View.
The Spartans were the ones literally laid out on mats in the corner of the gym. They just rested. Senior Jamie Calderwood even curled up in a sleeping bag to try to catch a nap before the award ceremony.
Many of Broad Run's gymnasts had competed with their previous injuries not completely healed. Yet in the end, the limping Spartans' determination and perseverance through pain led them to a season-high 129.1 points, less than one point short of the improbable: walking out a winner as the Blue Division champions. Stonewall Jackson won, with 129.675; host Park View placed third with a 124.5.
"Our goal was to get as much confidence as we could early in the season," Coach Jenny Aubel said. "I'm proud of what we did today. We came in here with a team average [score] of 121. We've been hurt all year, and when we get healthy--and we are getting better and better each day--we're going to be very good."
Because of the talent differential in the 12-team field, the invitational was split into two meets. The seven-team Blue Division featured teams averaging 124 points or fewer. The five-team Red Division--which was won by Stafford, with Loudoun Valley taking second and Woodbridge third--featured teams averaging at least 125 points per meet this season.
If it weren't for a couple of falls and a few more wobbles on the vault, the Spartans' first event, Broad Run might have taken the first-place trophy back to Ashburn, not the second.
"I thought we were really shaky on the vault," Aubel said. "We got some lower scores that we normally don't get. But as the meet went on, we got better."
After opening the meet with a 32.1 on the beam and a 30.9 on the uneven bars, the team posted a division-high 33 on the balance beam and followed with a solid 33.1 on floor to close out its four-event rotation.
Despite being hampered by a sprained left ankle, Calderwood tied a career-high with an 8.4 on the bars and followed that up with a 7.6 on the beam.
"Jamie was really hurting, and she still did a great job," said junior Kira Culotti, who rebounded from torn ligaments in her left ankle this past summer with team highs on the beam (8.7) and floor exercise (8.4), in addition to posting a 7.8 on bars and a 7.7 on vault. "I was most proud of my beam routine, because last week I fell and this week I didn't."
The outcome of the meet came down to Stonewall Jackson's final event, the vault. Trailing Broad Run by more than two full points--a rather large deficit in gymnastics--the Raiders rallied for a division-high score of 35.075 behind all-around champion Ariana Harvey's 9.275, all-around runner-up Jenny Winger's 9.2 and all-around and fifth-place finisher Laura Hancock's 9.05 to edge the Spartans.
"Broad Run is a very good team; I was impressed by watching them," Stonewall Jackson Coach Karen Lutman said. "They have some very strong gymnasts and are well coached. They are going to be even better at the end of the season. That's when it really matters, too."
As for the final stretch of the season, the Spartans (3-2) are optimistic. After winning the AAA Liberty District the past three years before dropping to the AA Northwestern District this year, the Spartans are a team that knows what it takes to win. And letting nagging injuries stand in their way isn't in the game plan.
"Honestly, this team is making it very easy on me," Aubel said. "Each day they are always asking questions about how they can improve their routines, even if it's just be a tenth of a point. Nobody is making excuses, and they are not giving up. Our routines are only going to get stronger."
CAPTION: Broad Run's Kira Culotti dismounts from beam Saturday. Having rebounded from torn ligaments in left ankle over summer, she scored a team-high 8.7.
CAPTION: Shelly Hacker performs on beam for Spartans, whose 129.1 points were just short of winning Blue Division.