Stonewall Jackson freshman Isabelle Schumaker wore her first-place medal proudly after yesterday's Winterfest Gymnastics Invitational at Colonial Forge. And she wore it with a smile.
Schumaker won the balance beam competition with a 9.4, besting 19 other gymnasts in the meet's Blue (upper) Division. As her name was called for the awards presentation, though, Schumaker had a little trouble getting to the top step of the podium, prompting a little laugh from the audience. But she managed to sidestep the second-place finisher and reach the peak.
Her balance beam routine, on the other hand, was a whole lot smoother than her podium climb. Schumaker didn't do any fancy back-handsprings, but her moves were clean and done with precision. She combined cartwheels, a handstand and a running front tuck dismount -- which she stuck without a budge -- for that first-place score.
"I was really surprised [that I won]," Schumaker said. "There are a lot of really good girls here. When I went, I didn't think I'd place high, but I just stuck my routine and got a good score. I was a little nervous, but I told myself to calm down and do my best."
Schumaker's 9.4 was a season-high on beam, an event that can spell trouble for some gymnasts because the four-inch-wide beam leaves little room for missteps. But Schumaker said it's her favorite event.
"I like it because you can hit every skill to its maximum," she said. "And I feel real solid on it."
In the team competition, Stonewall finished third (107.875) behind Stafford (110) and Prince William's only other meet participant, Osbourn Park (108.95).
Stonewall was without senior Laura Hancock for three of the four events (she only competed bars and scored 9.0) because of an injured left foot. It's the same foot Hancock broke last summer; she plans to have it X-rayed this week. Hancock is hopeful it will be fine for the Cedar Run/Cardinal meet Saturday morning.
Osbourn Park also was without a key competitor. Sophomore Sally May missed the meet because of a club gymnastics commitment, but Coach Monica Brown said May will compete at districts, where the Yellow Jackets will try to take the title from defending champ Stonewall.
Osbourn Park senior Kelly Stevison again showed why she'll be a force at the state individual championships. Stevison scored a 9.75 on her Phelps vault (she stood it up, but stumbled on the landing) to win that event, earned a personal-high 9.55 on floor and also captured the uneven bars title with 9.6. Stevison also brought back a unique and incredibly difficult move to her balance beam routine.
"I took out the front-tuck mount the last couple of meets and wanted to put that in there to get back in the swing of things. Kind of a forerunner to districts," said Stevison, who scored 8.95 after a fall following the mount.
The Yellow Jackets performed beautifully on uneven bars, and if not for Stafford's high scoring on the same event probably would have won the meet. Devon Alston scored 8.85, Ashley Keller had 9.2 and Beth Ploger 9.35 to go along with Stevison's 9.6.
"Everyone wants to win, but now we know that we can be competitive with a team that's as good as Stafford," Alston said. "There's four really good teams in our region, with only two spots to go to states."