Fifteen Fairfax and Arlington county gymnasts competed in last weekend's Virginia High School League championships in Virginia Beach, and six of them came home with medals.
Lake Braddock freshman Jeenie Shank was the Washington area's top performer in the all-around competition, scoring a personal best 38.60, good for second place out of 22 gymnasts. Only Kara Wright of First Colonial (Virginia Beach) scored higher, with a near-record 39.325.
Shank also earned a second-place medal on uneven bars (9.8), and a prize for third on vault for a stunning front handspring, front-tuck which earned another 9.8.
"A lot of these girls were awesome," Shank said. "I was sitting here thinking, 'Oh my god, they're amazing.' I didn't even know there were this many talented girls out there."
Shank's teammate Regina Renzi, a sophomore, scored 9.525 for her difficult pike Tsukahara vault, standing it up on both attempts and earning a fifth-place medal. It was quite a jump from last season, when Renzi finished in a tie for 26th at the state meet with 9.025. Renzi also scored a 9.3 on uneven bars to finish 15th.
One night after leading her Rams to a solid fifth-place finish in the team competition, Robinson's Kaitlin Hoey earned two medals at the individual championships: eighth place in the all-around with 37.075 and fourth place on vault for a pretty handspring, double full twist for a 9.675.
"In the team competition, I didn't make either of [the vault attempts], so it was really great that I made the last one," Hoey said.
Langley senior Emily Reber and junior Megan Shores added state medals to their collection for the first time. Reber scored 9.6 on the floor exercise to finish tied for seventh in her final high school meet.
"I've progressed so much from my freshman year," Reber said. "I've added a bunch of new skills this season , so it's been fun to compete them, especially at states."
Shores, who three weeks ago scored a 9.9 on balance beam, couldn't quite match that near perfection, but dazzled the judges with a fancy shoulder-roll mount, two consecutive back handsprings and a front layout with a full twist dismount. She tied for eighth place with 9.575.
Jefferson's Sarah Randle, who excels on uneven bars, did not disappoint in her premier event. Responding to cheers of "Come on Sadie" from gymnast friends who shouted her nickname from the floor, Randle stuck her difficult two-somersault dismount -- known as a "double back" -- for a 9.675. It earned her a seventh-place medal.
"It was really fun," Randle said. "Having everybody here, all the Northern Region people coming together and hanging out. . . . It was nice to make it here."
Other local gymnasts competing were Farifax's Amie Hatt on beam (9.3, 21st place); Edison sisters Jesse Wargo (floor: 9.525, tied 12th; bars: 9.275, 16th) and Jamie Wargo (beam: 9.35, 19th); Chantilly's Valerie Voorhies (beam: 9.375, 15th; bars: 9.175, 19th; vault: 9.2, 21st); Centreville's Jennifer Comber (vault: 9.3, 11th; floor: 9.375, 23rd); Robinson's Katie Sauer (floor: 9.325, 24th; beam: 9.075, 27th) and Kristen Cicala (floor: 9.425, 21st); Langley's Diana Sciambi (vault: 9.15, 26th); and Oakton's Liza Greenspun (8.9, tied 30th).
Oakton's Christie Swanson qualified for states in the all-around, but withdrew after falling ill Saturday morning. She did compete in Friday night's team competition, when Oakton finished fourth.