While Atlee, and more recently Patrick Henry, have received much of the attention and headlines in area gymnastics, some may be surprised to discover when Lee-Davis captured the annual County Quad Meet Thursday night at Hanover High, it made for back-to-back team championships.
After nipping Atlee a year ago, the Confederates had, by comparison, a relatively easy victory this year, scoring 138 points, with the host Hawks runners-up at 134.4. Patrick Henry was third at 132.25, while Atlee, being hamstrung by not fielding a full compliment of competitors, finished with 102.2 points.
“We’ve been practicing really hard for this meet, and we knew there would be tough competition,” veteran Lee-Davis gymnast Becca Fields said. “Plus with Patrick Henry beating Deep Run, and us losing to Deep Run at the beginning of the year, we were really nervous about that.”
In the end, there was no need to be, but Fields notes how much having this meet experience will aid her and her Confederate teammates as the postseason quickly approaches.
“I never thought we would have scored a 138. Normally our range is 134-135,” Fields explained.
Fields placed second in the vault (8.9) to the individual all-around winner, Patrick Henry sophomore Keion Greenhow, who pulled out some stops for a more difficult routine, and scored a 9.05, but not without a scary moment or two. On one attempt she flipped onto the vault and came to a very sudden halt, just sitting there as if it were planned. Her final attempt was more to her liking, and she never doubted her efforts.
“I didn’t doubt; I just wanted to do it, and do it to win,” Greenhow noted, calling the vault her strongest performance of the event.
She scored much higher, however on the beam, winning that discipline with a 9.5 over Madison Godsey of Lee-Davis. Derika Banks of Atlee placed third.
Banks, the leader of a depleted Raiders squad, tied for first with Greenhow on the uneven bars, and performed well on the floor exercise, finishing second with 8.95. Godsey tied for the floor title with Hanover’s Ashleigh Bryant.
Hanover head coach Jessica Moore was pleased with her team’s efforts, mindful of the competition that lies ahead.
“This was our best performance of the season,” Moore said, noting the Hawks specifically chose to compete in an invitational this coming weekend in Northern Virginia to gauge possible state competitors. “But we have to be clean.”
Moore lauded Bryant’s efforts especially.
“Ashleigh has really stepped it up. She came out with surprises for me,” Moore said, laughing. “It was all about confidence. She can pull it out of her head and say, ‘Can I do this?’ And I’m like, ‘sure!’”
Hanover hosts a Conference Meet consisting of several schools from different conferences Feb. 5, including nearby Glen Allen. The Virginia High School League (VHSL) will only crown two state champions, one in 6A, the other from teams combined from classifications 1A to 5A. All county teams will be in the latter category.
Patrick Henry joins Atlee and Lee-Davis in the highly-competitive Conference 11 event Feb. 8 at Deep Run High School. Back for that event for Patrick Henry will be defending Central Region All-Around champion, senior Kristen Valasek, who missed the County Quad while on a trip to a gymnastics meet in San Antonio, Texas.
Valasek had off-season wrist surgery and is mindful of it as she approaches conference and region competition.
“My general health is good, and my wrist is OK. I have been playing it safe,” Valasek told the Herald-Progress Monday. “Unfortunately there is nothing more I can do as of now to fix it but doctors say it can’t get worse, so I’m able to do things as long as I can handle the pain.
Valasek noted she is most concerned about her floor routine, considering the wrist and lack of competition time, moreso than other disciplines.
“My beam routine almost uses no hands, bars do not hurt and vault is quick,” Valasek explained. “However, the floor is a lot of pressure continuously, but hopefully I can push through.”
If she can, the combination of Valasek and Greenhow could help the Patriots make major noise in the postseason. But the consistency of Lee-Davis, and the surging exuberance of Hanover can help them do the exact same thing.