For the second year in a row, Broadneck junior Andrew Podolin had to hurry through his routines at the boys' gymnastics county championships last week to catch a plane to the Junior Olympic nationals.
Last spring, Podolin couldn't finish all six events due to a conflicting flight and thus couldn't take home the all-around medal. This year, in the Severna Park gym, Podolin hustled through his routines -- judges and coaches let the accomplished Barlow's club gymnast go ahead of others -- and won the all-around crown with a six-event score of 53.0, then took off for the airport and the Class 1 nationals in San Diego.
"I'm glad I did it," said Podolin, who finished first in the county on parallel bars (9.3), high bar (8.8), rings (9.6) and pommel horse (9.2). "I love high school meets because they are a lot of fun. Our sport doesn't get that much recognition."
At the junior nationals -- Class 1 is the highest level for high school-age boys -- Podolin's best event was parallel bars, where he finished tied for 82nd place with 8.275.
Severna Park senior Richard Thompson finished a solid three-year career with the Falcons by completing his giants on high bar in the last routine of the evening.
It was the first time he successfully completed the big, circular swings, and he was greeted by thunderous cheers upon sticking his layout flyaway dismount. Thompson's 7.4 tied for third, and he also took third in the all-around with a six-event score of 44.2.
"I think that was more me out there tonight [than in previous meets], knowing this was my last event in high school to ever compete," said Thompson, who also placed third on rings and parallel bars and second on floor.
Co-captain Thompson also had some pre-meet words for his teammates. "I said, 'Guys, Old Mill's been up by a little bit, but this is our last meet. Just give it everything you've got.' "
Severna Park (153 points) took second to champion Old Mill (161.2).
Four gymnasts won individual event titles at last week's girls' county championships. Chesapeake sophomore Megan Askew won floor (9.2), Arundel senior Leigh Edwards won uneven bars (9.1) and a pair of freshman finished first: Joanne Amos's back-handspring, back-walkover combination combined with no falls helped the Broadneck gymnast win balance beam (9.0), and Severna Park's Jackie Kinsella stuck a pretty handspring, full-twist on vault for a first-place 8.9.
"I've done that vault before, but I've never stuck both of them," said Kinsella, a former Docksiders gymnast who was also elated about her beam routine, which scored 8.3 "It was the first meet that I did a back-handspring series, and I made it."
Annapolis senior Brittany Matthews, the 2003 All-Extra Gymnast of the Year who missed this season with a knee injury, performed a light, non-risky routine on beam in order to end her career on the mat rather than on the sideline. Matthews, with the knee heavily taped, earned 7.85 for the effort.