Washington-Lee gets close to title again at Virginia AAA gymnastics meet

Washington-Lee senior Mary Lynn Clark was hoping the Generals would follow last season’s runner-up finish at the Virginia AAA team gymnastics championships by taking home the first-place trophy Friday at Centreville.

The Generals soared to a school-record 147.20 points, but that score was not enough to earn them a title, though Clark wasn’t letting that cloud her perspective of the team’s achievements.

“Our goal tonight was to beat our team score, and we did that,” she said. “We had a really good day, so I can’t really ask for anything more. It is somewhat disappointing that it was kind of close, but at the same time, we beat six teams and are second in the state, and that’s a really big accomplishment.”

Kellam, the Eastern Region champion out of Virginia Beach, scored 148.30 to earn its fourth state title and first since 2010.

A Northern or Northwest Region squad has not won a team championship since Osbourn Park took three in a row from 2007-09.

“I know the girls were looking forward to winning it all, but Kellam had a little bit stronger routines that we had,” Washington-Lee Coach Joe D’Emidio said. “Our girls did their best.”

D’Emidio knew his squad was in for a challenge after it scored a 147.15 in winning last week’s Northern Region meet, well behind Kellam’s 149.725 and Great Bridge’s 148.20 at the Eastern Region championship.

“We got [past] one out of the two,” D’Emidio said. “So you’ve got to feel good about that. It was a great season for them.”

Washington-Lee started its day with a 37.90 in the vault, improving upon last week’s school-record score and putting it in front. Senior Maia Mandel, who didn’t complete a vault at the regional, was one of three Generals to notch a 9.4 in the event. Clark, last year’s All-Met Gymnast of the Year, recovered from a fall on her first attempt to notch a 9.7 but knew there was a long road ahead.

“Vault’s our best event,” Clark said. “It was like, ‘Well, we still have three more events.’ So after vault we moved on and thought about bars, then beam. We moved on and didn’t let anything get to us.”

Washington-Lee produced a 36.65 on the bars, paced by Clark’s 9.65. But it couldn’t maintain the advantage over Kellam, whose 37.825 on vault pushed the Knights into first by less than a half-point.

The Generals regained only a tiny bit of ground on the balance beam, their 36.55 leaving them 0.325 of a point behind the Knights entering the final rotation. That put Washington-Lee within striking distance, but Kellam held steady on the beam and increased its lead as the Generals scored a 36.10 on floor exercise.

Great Bridge, the Eastern Region runner-up, placed third. Stafford and Battlefield, from the Northwest Region, were fourth and fifth, respectively. McLean, the Northern Region runner-up, was eighth.

Competition will resume Saturday afternoon at Centreville, with the individual all-around championship.

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