As the clock approached 9 p.m. Friday, the noise started to die down as teams wrapped up and anticipation for the announcement of the final scoring grew. The gymnasts from Freedom-South Riding sat in the bleachers, huddled together for what seemed like forever as the last group of opponents wrapped up.
While Coach Laura Wrighte quietly added up her team’s scores and wondered whether they would be good enough, sophomore Kelly Fangyen sat with her teammates, feeling surprisingly calm. The young group faced a high bar Friday: The Eagles were looking to make it three state team titles in a row. But Fangyen knew that the hard part was over.
“It kind of felt good,” she said of the wait. “I knew that we did all that we could. There was no point in stressing.”
Minutes later, the Eagles were sitting in a circle and holding hands as they were crowned champions again. Then they leaped to their feet and formed a mass of hugs.
Freedom won with a score of 150.425. Heritage (147.450) was the runner-up in Class 1-5, followed by Deep Run (142.675). It was the best performance the Eagles had ever given, beating their team score record for the second time this season.
On Thursday, when the only thing ahead of her team was the state meet, Wrighte spoke to her gymnasts about focus. She wanted them to live in the moment Friday, not think about previous championships or opposing scores.
“I also told them that they were ready,” Wrighte said.
Fangyen led the way, earning the team’s highest score in all four categories. Her 9.900 on the vault was the best of her high school career. Other key scores included a 9.700 from junior Riley Waldrop on vault, a 9.525 from sophomore Liliana Gines on balance beam and a 9.400 from sophomore Emily Hyun on floor.
“Carrying on the legacy, there’s a lot of pressure involved in that,” Hyun said.
“But our coaches and our teammates keep us ready.”
In Class 6, Robinson was runner-up to Ocean Lakes. The Rams, winners of the past two titles, tallied a score of 145.250; Ocean Lakes turned in a 152.00. Washington-Liberty (144.325) was third.