Sixteen-year-old Michelle Ritenour of Stonewall Jackson had three straight scores over nine to win the South Lakes (High School) Invitational gymnastics meet yesterday.
Ritenour, the defending Virginia AAA state champion, scored 35.35 points and defeated Stacy Baker of Lake Braddock and Lori Pepple of the host school.
"For the first meet of the year, I'm pretty pleased," Ritenour said. "But I'm going to have to work on my endurance. I was getting tired."
The 5-foot-4 junior from Manassas bruised her right heel in practice, fell after her mount on the balance beam and had her musical selection for the floor excerise snarled on the tape machine.
"The machine was eating my tape. I couldn't tell where I was in my routine," Ritenour said.
"My score was a complete gift," she said of the 9.1 that won the floor exercise.
Ritenour went on to score a 9.2 in the uneven bars and a 9.1 in the vault, before turning in a disappointing 7.97 in the balance beam. She attempted a cartwheel mount, couldn't halt her momentum and fell.
Second-place finisher Baker's highest scores were fourth in the vault and the uneven bars..
Pepple's 34.30 total gave her third, five-hundredths of a point behind Baker. She helped South Lakes win the team title over 19 schools.