Loudoun Valley has been the dominant gymnastics team all season and is unlikely to be challenged seriously Saturday at the AA Dulles District championships at Stone Bridge.
The Vikings' talented lineup has consistently scored team totals higher than 140, which equates to each gymnast scoring about 9.0 on each rotation. Loudoun Valley's depth is unmatched, making the Vikings the favorite to repeat convincingly as district champions.
"We're not going in there thinking we're definitely going to win this," sophomore Shannon Cain said. "We're going to go in being confident. All of us have been working really hard at practice, doing a lot of routines. We're going in with a good attitude ready to perform."
Individual competition, however, should provide more intrigue.
Cain and junior Alicia Essex, teammates and good friends, could battle neck and neck for the all-around title. In top form, both can score more than 37 points. One caveat, however, is that Cain's right elbow is sore, and Cooper may remove her from one or more events to rest her for the Virginia AA state qualifying meet on Feb. 7.
Right on their heels is Stone Bridge freshman Allison Burkett, who scored a 35.925 at South Lakes in December and whose routines include difficult moves.
Loudoun Valley senior Krystle Hollingsworth is a steady veteran and comes through in high-pressure meets. She was the Vikings highest all-around finisher at the 2002 district meet (35.875, fifth place) and could easily break 36 and give Essex and Cain a run.
Essez said she is "real excited" about the possibility of winning all-around." "I have to hit beam," she said. "Krystle and Shannon are good competition, and it would be great if we could finish first, second and third."
Freshmen Kaitlyn Dixon of Park View and Kiersten Petersen of Potomac Falls would have been contenders for strong finishes but are sidelined. Dixon broke her ankle at a club meet last week, and Petersen has a strained back muscle that may be more serious than first thought.
In other events:
* Balance Beam -- Aside from Cain, Burkett and Hollingsworth, Park View's Jackie Huamani scored 8.75 at Winterfest last Saturday. Loudoun Valley's Elizabeth Andrews has three high superior jumps in her routine. Heritage freshman Brittany Rose scored an 8.65 on Monday night and will be one to watch.
* Uneven bars -- If she competes, Cain's double-back tuck dismount makes her the favorite. Hollingsworth also scores in the mid-to-high 8s on this tough event. Essex's skills are clean, making her likely to medal. Potomac Falls's Julia Vaeth uses strength to her advantage and could break into the 8s.
* Floor exercise -- Essex, Cain and Burkett are the favorites. Other contenders include Loudoun Valley's Kathryn Sands, who scored a 9.15 recently; Heritage's Rose and Ashley Justice; and Park View's Joanna Quinn and Catherine Smathers, who scored 8.8 two weeks ago. Stone Bridge's Shelly Burkett is capable of scoring 9.0, but an injured right elbow could affect her acrobatics.
* Vault -- Cain performs a front-handspring front tuck with a 10.0 level of difficulty. Essex and Burkett do a Tsukahara, and nailing that would put them on the medal stand. Loudoun Valley's Kaylon Parker, Potomac Falls's Angela Glover and Broad Run's Leah Taylor are very solid in this event, scoring in the mid 8s.