Competitors to Watch

Allison Burkett, Stone Bridge, Fr. -- She wasn't fazed in her first high school meet eight days ago at South Lakes, finishing first on beam (9.4) and fifth in the all-around (35.925).

Alicia Essex, Loudoun Valley, Jr. -- If the Vikings are to repeat as Dulles District champions, Essex must score high consistently. She scored 9.05 on vault and 9.025 on floor in the season-opening South Lakes Invitational. Last season, she qualified for the state meet on floor, beam and vault.

Krystle Hollingsworth, Loudoun Valley, Sr. -- Hollingsworth earned a trip to the state meet on balance beam last season with a 9.45 at district championships. At her first state meet, she earned a solid 8.85.

Kiersten Petersen, Potomac Falls, Fr. -- A club gymnast at Gymini Gymnastics, Petersen has strong tumbling runs in the floor exercise and is solid on vault and balance beam. By season's end, she could challenge for the district all-around title.

Joanna Quinn, Park View, Sr. -- Her team's most experienced gymnast, she has improved each year and likely will earn a spot in state qualifying in all four events.

Story Lines * What can be expected of Heritage?

Erin Garrett, an assistant at Park View last year, heads the Pride program. Sophomore Ashley Justice transferred from Stone Bridge, and freshman Brittany Rose looks promising. Last week, Justice earned a spot in the AA state qualifier with 8.4 on vault and 8.3 on floor. The rest of the lineup is filled with beginners, but expect Garrett to have them improving quickly.

* With Britany Raymond and Christina Padilla opting for club competition, how will their schools perform?

Broad Run Coach Jenny Aubel's team now consists of four girls, none of whom compares to Raymond, an All-Met and last year's All-Extra Gymnast of the Year. The team score will suffer in her absence. Leah Taylor leads the Spartans. Potomac Falls will count on Peterson, senior Angela Glover and sophomore Julia Vaeth (vault, beam), but replacing Padilla's consistently high scores will be difficult.

* Can any team prevent Loudoun Valley from winning the AA Dulles District team title?

Not likely. The Vikings are the overwhelming favorite, with Shannon Cain, Essex and Hollingsworth leading the way. Loudoun Valley has one of the area's deepest teams, regardless of classification, and easily could be one of Northern Virginia's top team finishers at a state competition. However, Virginia High School League bylaws allow AAA teams to compete only at the state meet. The Vikings finished second among 16 AAA teams at the South Lakes Invitational and have eight gymnasts who can put up solid scores.

-- Dave Yanovitz

As a sophomore last season, Loudoun Valley's Alicia Essex qualified for the state meet on the floor, beam and vault.