For four years, freshman have made a significant impact on the high school gymnastics scene in Loudoun County.
Lindsey Montana arrived at Potomac Falls in 1999, set numerous school records and was a two-time All-Met. Christina Padilla joined the Panthers the next year and became a regular at the state meet.
In 2001, Broad Run's Britany Raymond put together dazzling routines and was the highest local finisher in all-around at that year's state meet, and last season, Shannon Cain led Loudoun Valley to a Dulles District title.
Make room for another name -- Allison Burkett. The talented ninth-grader from Stone Bridge could be the area's next impact gymnast and will be one of the leading contenders to win all-around at the Park View Invitational on Saturday.
"She's very powerful," Coach Kathy Lashlee said of Burkett, who is barely 5 feet tall, "and because she's got the strength, she's capable of doing the tricks, the skills."
In her first meet, Burkett won all-around with a 34.50 over gymnasts from South Lakes, Westfield and McLean.
"It was nothing like I expected," Burkett said of her initial high school competition. "I thought it was going to be all uptight and stuff, but it wasn't."
Five days later came her first real test. Sixteen teams and more than 100 gymnasts were in Reston for the South Lakes Invitational. Burkett hit her Tsukahara vault for a 9.3, fashioned a pretty balance beam routine for a 9.4 and first place in that event and was sharp on floor for a 9.0.
Adding an 8.2 on uneven bars, she finished fifth in all-around with a 35.925, an impressive feat considering the experienced and talented competition. "I was amazed at how well I did," she said.
In her other two meets, Burkett won all-around with a 34.70 and was second to Cain with a 34.05.
Her favorite events are, not surprisingly, those in which her routines are the most difficult: vault and balance beam.
On vault, she throws a Tsukahara, which requires great strength to catapult high enough for the full back somersault after the half-twist onto the horse. On beam, Burkett puts a difficult standing back tuck somersault into her routine and finishes with a tricky back flip dismount off the side of the beam.
With the AA Dulles District championships little more than three weeks away, Burkett knows that she must add something extra to her uneven bars routine to have a serious chance to win the title.
The field is wide open this year since Raymond and Padilla are competing only for club teams. So Burkett said she'll work with Lashlee, perhaps on improving her mount so the routine starts at a higher level.
Lashlee thinks that Burkett "could be in the top one or two" in all-around at districts because "she's focused and consistent."
Burkett's goal is the top three, which would put her in the state meet, just like those freshman who preceded her.
"I want to try and be the best," Burkett said. "There's a difference between being the best and being my best, and right now, I think I'm way past being my best."