When the final team scores were announced at last night's Virginia AAA Patriot District gymnastics championship, the Robinson gymnasts let out a loud scream. The Rams had compiled a season high in points, and more importantly, dethroned eight-time defending district champion and host Lake Braddock.
"We've worked so hard," said Robinson sophomore Kaitlin Hoey, who finished second in all four events and in the all-around competition with 37.475 points. "We've been putting in new skills, changing things, making them better with bonus [skills]."
Robinson -- the district runner-up last season -- outscored Lake Braddock in every event (balance beam, uneven bars, floor and vault) and finished with 143.95 points, two ahead of the Bruins. West Potomac finished third at 106.10. Lake Braddock freshman Jeenie Shank won the district all-around title with 38.5 points.
Robinson and Lake Braddock, as well as the top eight gymnasts in each event and the top four in the all-around, qualified for the Northern Region championships, scheduled for Feb. 8 at Centreville.
The Rams sprang into the lead -- literally -- from the outset, performing beautifully on vault. Hoey landed her handspring with two full twists for a 9.4 and freshman Katie Sauer stuck her handspring full-twist for a 9.075. Robinson kept its advantage on the uneven bars when Hoey executed a pretty shoot-over followed by a layout half-twist dismount for a 9.35 and sophomore Tory Ianni scored 9.0.
"They pulled themselves together" after bad warmups, Robinson assistant coach Katie Hoffman said. "We wouldn't let them look at scores. We just tried to keep them focused, and that really helped."
Shank hit her front handspring, front tuck vault for a first-place 9.575, then went on to win bars (9.775), balance beam (9.725) and floor exercise (9.425). She nailed a back handspring, back layout on the balance beam, did a double full twist at the end of her first floor exercise tumbling run, and reversed directions on her "giant" swings on the uneven bars.
"I was on tonight, everything," Shank said with a big smile. "Beam, that was definitely big. My back handspring layout, the whole gym was silent. I was, like, 'Oh my god, I better stay on.' "