The Loudoun Valley gymnastics team and Stone Bridge freshman Allison Burkett showed signs of things to come this winter at the South Lakes Invitational on Saturday.
The Vikings, building on last year's Dulles District championship, were sharp and finished second in the 16-team field. Burkett placed fifth in all-around competition in her first high school event, 0.60 points behind individual champion Jeenie Shank of Lake Braddock.
Loudoun Valley, with anchors Shannon Cain and Alicia Essex back, led team competition at the halfway point thanks to great performances on floor and vault. The Vikings slipped a bit on balance beam but finished second to Oakton with 105 points. Oakton had 106.375.
"We did an incredible job, especially considering we didn't have our full lineup for beam, bars or vault," said Loudoun Valley Coach Jennifer Cooper.
The team's depth, among the best in the Washington area, showed. Cain was third in all-around with 36.6 points, and Essex, Ellie Biraben, Emily Lewis, Krystle Hollingsworth, Elizabeth Andrews and Kaylon Parker contributed to the Vikings' team score.
"I'm proud of that," Cooper said. "We always discuss that it's a team effort. I tell the girls, 'Don't always depend on Shannon and Alicia to carry you.' "
Burkett's showing was only slightly marred by an 8.2 on uneven bars, which may have been the only thing that kept her from the top spot on the medal stand. She was solid otherwise, finishing with 35.925 points and winning balance beam. A Level 8 gymnast who trains with the Northern Virginia Gymnastics Association club, Burkett was not rattled by the sizable crowd or the more than 100 competitors and earned a 9.4.
"I'm amazed that she's doing this well," said Stone Bridge Coach Kathy Lashlee. "Allison's a strong competitor, focused. She's not worried about the other competition. She just wants to do her best routine. If she wants to do something, she's going to set her mind to do it."
Burkett also put together nice routines on vault (9.3, fifth place) and floor exercise (9.025, sixth place). Her twin sister, Shelly, also a Level 8 gymnast with NVGA club, scored 8.4 on vault and 8.225 on floor exercise. Both scores made Shelly eligible for the Virginia AA qualifying meet on Feb. 8.
Potomac Falls, without All-Extra Christina Padilla (not competing in high school to focus on club) and All-Met Lindsey Montana (Ithaca College), showed that it still has talent. Freshman Kiersten Petersen looked polished on balance beam (9.0, ninth place), floor exercise (8.6) and vault (8.5). She also locked up a spot in the state qualifier on those three events.
"Once she understands all the requirements of high school competition, her scores are going to go way up, and she'll get more confidence," said Potomac Falls Coach Leslie Nanna.
Stone Bridge finished 11th in team competition with 91.55 points, Potomac Falls 12th at 91.125.