Left searching for answers after two straight disappointing meets, Brooke Point gymnastics coach Becky Bowery used the bus ride to Saturday's Washington-Lee Invitational to find what she was looking for.
"I wanted to know what was wrong; this was our last meet of [the regular] season, and we were starting to go downhill," she said. "And then our girls said that they had been more concerned with what the other teams were scoring, and they were losing their focus."
And so on Saturday at the 29th annual invitational--the state's oldest gymnastics invitational--the team focused on itself, a strategy that resulted with four Black-Hawks posting career-highs en route to a sixth-place finish in the 12-team field.
"We had a fantastic meet," said Bowery, whose team's score of 100.2 was just behind fifth-place Edison (100.25). "Every one of our girls just stayed focused on their routines, and it turned into a great meet for us."
Stafford won the meet with a 109.45, easily beating West Springfield (103.175) and Woodbridge (102.825) for their third invitational win in as many weeks. The Indians won the Washington Post-Loudoun Extra Invitational at Park View Jan. 8 and the Winterfest Invitational at Colonial Forge Jan. 15.
However, no team needed a bigger showing than the Black-Hawks. Senior Ty Stull led Brooke Point by finishing second in the all-around competition with a career high 9.5 on the balance beam--good for second place--a third-place score of 9.15 on the floor exercise, a 9.05 on bars and a 9.0 on vault.
"I knew this was the last invitational that I would ever compete in, so I really wanted to make this one of my best meets this year," said Stull, who has been accepted to the University of Arizona and the University of Southern Utah, but is waiting to see whether she'll get a gymnastics scholarship from either. "I just wanted to focus on what I was doing and not what other teams were doing. I thought that was a big for both me and our team."
Brooke Point also got a boost from its three freshmen--Sara Finney, Lara Chudoba and Elsie Oldaker--who each posted two career highs. Finney scored an 8.55 on vault and a 7.3 on beam, Chudoba a 7.05 on bars and a 7.2 on beam and Oldaker an 8.3 on vault and a 7.5 on beam.
"This was a really important meet for us, and I thought we really worked well as a team," Oldaker said.
Unlike the two invitationals at Park View and Colonial Forge, teams were not separated into two divisions based on each squad's average score.
Besting Stull in the all-around competition was West Springfield's Mary Cantu, with a 37.075. Stafford took three of the next four places: Aimee Little (3rd, 36.6), Angel Dodson (4th, 36.10) and Jennifer Whited (6th, 35.95).
"Overall, I was very pleased with the way our team competed, and I really like where we are at heading into districts," said Stafford Coach Shawn Smith, whose team will host the Commonwealth District championships Feb. 3. "Each meet we are having different people come up big on their routines."
1. Stafford, 109.45; 2. West Springfield, 103.175; 3. Woodbridge, 102.825; 4. Lee, 102.3; 5. Edison, 100.25; 6. Brooke Point, 100.2; 7. South Lakes, 98.25; 8. Osbourn Park, 93.1; 9. Park View 92; 10. Jefferson, 87.65; 11. Washington-Lee (A), 74.30; 12. Washington-Lee (B), 48.05.
All-around: 1. Mary Cantu, West Springfield, 37.075; 2. Ty Stull, Brooke Point, 36.70; 3. Aimee Little, Stafford, 36.60; 4. Angel Dodson, Stafford, 36.10; 5. Emily Smolen, West Springfield, 36.05.
Floor exercise: 1. Mary Cantu, West Springfield, 9.25; 2. Aimee Little, Stafford, 9.2; 3. Ty Stull, Brooke Point, 9.15; 4. Angel Dodson, Stafford, 9.05; 5. Lauren Andress, Woodbridge, 9.0; Jesse Wargo, Lee, 9.0; Danielle Giuliano, Edison, 9.0.
Vault: 1. Dodson, Stafford, 9.45; 2. Cantu, West Springfield, 9.275; 3. Kristine Martin, Woodbridge, 9.225; 4. Giuliano, Edison, 9.15; 5. Jennifer Whited, Stafford, 9.05; Little, Stafford, 9.05.
Uneven bars: 1. Allison Shonerd, Lee, 9.8; 2. Cantu, West Springfield, 9.6; 3. Michelle Pearson, Edison, 9.55; 4. Dodson, Stafford, 9.35; 4. Little, Stafford, 9.35; 6. Emily Smolen, West Springfield, 9.2.
Balance beam: 1. Smolen, West Springfield, 9.75; 2. Stull, 9.5; 3. Whited, Stafford, 9.15; 4. Little, Stafford, 9.0; 5. Cantu, West Springfield, 8.95.
CAPTION: Ty Stull on the balance beam at Jan. 15 meet. She helped Brooke Point score 100.2 points Saturday at the 29th Washington-Lee Invitational.