By Rob Witham
In what will be the closest thing to an all-county gymnastics meet in the 2016-17 season, Hanover hosted Atlee and Patrick Henry last Wednesday night. For the Patriots and their new head coach Kylie Foster, it was only their second meet of the season.
Despite the lack of opportunity to compete, the Patriots showed they are doing well. They hope to improve over the next month to get ready for the postseason, as Patrick Henry won the team title, scoring 130.75 points. Atlee was second at 128.4 while Hanover placed third with 124.15 points.
Leading the way, as expected, was Patrick Henry junior Sierra Baxter who won the Individual All-Around title with 35.8 points, followed by Belle Bergeron of Atlee at 32.45. Hanover freshman Sophie Vota was just behind in third at 32.2, while Jennifer Flores of Patrick Henry was fourth at 31.25, and teammate Brianna Dorsey, a sophomore, was fifth with 30.65 points.
Flores is the lone senior on the Patriot roster, and Foster is thrilled about the fact that one of her biggest issues is settling on a lineup for a meet.
“This is only our second meet, so we can only rise,” Foster said. “We have a lot of room to grow, things to improve on. I’m super happy that they are pushing through. All of my girls do most events, which is nice and it makes my decision making very difficult figuring out my top six.”
There’s no doubt who is atop the lineup for Patrick Henry, as Baxter, a third-year varsity member, won the floor exercise (9.55), the beam (9.1) and the bars (8.55) to power her to the individual title and set the stage for the Patriots’ team win.
The depth for the Patriots showed up on floor as Rachel Morgan took second with an 8.55 while freshman Madison Spence tied for third at 8.45 with Jordan Dunfee of Atlee. On beam, Flores was second behind Baxter scoring an 8.55, while Kayleigh Bohn was fourth at 84. Spence won the vault competition, scoring an 8.75. Flores was in a four-way tie second at 8.65, while Baxter took third at 8.6.
Foster believes Baxter has a quality to provides just as much to Patrick Henry’s efforts than her scoring ability.
“She’s a great gymnast, she is improving every day,” Foster opined. “But the one thing that I would say she adds besides skill level is her attitude. She has the best attitude. She’s uplifting, she pushes the whole team. Her personality is uplifting and I’m thankful more for that than her skill level.”
For Atlee, Bergeron was in the four-way tie for second on vault at 8.65, finishing third on bars as well as beam. Teammates Haley Frost and Kate Anderson were also part of the four-way tie on vault.
For Hanover, Vota took fourth on floor (8.25), fourth on bars (7.2), fourth on vault (8.5) and sixth on beam (8.25). Teammate Madison Klump took second overall on bars (8.15) and fifth on beam (8.35). With both Klump and Vota freshmen, the future is mighty bright for Hawks head coach Caitlin Berry.
Patrick Henry and Hanover head to Mills Godwin to compete in a tri-meet on Thursday night, while Atlee hopes that a meet postponed on Tuesday at Deep Run High School due to the weather can be made up. As gymnastics team have limited numbers of meets to use in the regular season to prepare for conference and region tournament action, losing one to the weather can be tough.
The Raiders, Hawks and Patriots will compete for the combined Conference 12/16/20 championship Feb. 1, at Varina High School.