In Shawn Thurston’s 20 seasons as head gymnastics coach at Stafford High School, floor exercise and balance beam have been traditional strengths for the Indians.
The same held true on Saturday, as the Indians rode the two events to the Region 5D crown at North Stafford High School. It was the eighth such title in her illustrious career.
“I like starting with it [floor exercise] because we start off pretty strong and then just keep going from there,” said team captain Laney Krejdovsky. “Today went pretty well. We had some minor faults here and there. Overall, it wasn’t too bad.”
All five Stafford gymnasts scored 9.25 or higher on floor, helping the Indians to a team-best 38 points on the event. Their routines went just as smoothly on beam for a 36.525 tally. The host Wolverines were the closest challengers on the apparatus with 31.775.
“Every year is special. There’s always something different each year,” Thurston said. “I knew the three [we had back]. Then it was nice additions: Christina [Beggs] and Kameryn [Daniels]. And Sophia [Housand] has improved throughout the season.”
Beggs registered a meet-high 9.75 score to capture the floor title.
Stafford will compete in the team portion of the state meet next Friday at Salem High School in Virginia Beach. Defending state champion Freedom is viewed as the top challenger. Individuals finishing in the top four per event and the top two all-arounds qualify for Saturday’s individual competition.
About preparing for both portions of the state meet, Thurston commented: “We usually focus for the team first. We will work on the skills. As long as the individuals do well, guess what? The team will do well, too.”
Daniels, a sophomore, placed second on beam (9.525), third on bars (9.0) and fifth on floor (9.425). “There’s always room for improvement,” the first-year gymnast said. “All these teams are really good. There’s definitely pressure.”
In the all-around competition, Housand could not repeat the title she won at the Stafford County championships, getting edged out by North Stafford’s Christina Bapple, 37.475 to 37.450.
“It was great. Every event went well,” said Bapple, a senior. “This season has been the best so far. Physically, everything has been OK. Our numbers are a lot better than any year before.”
Although missing out in the all-around advancement, Abbey Whitehead and Zara Christophe were the driving force that sparked Mountain View to a second-place finish. Whitehead won on bars (9.45) and shared second place on vault with Christophe.
“My primary focus today was to be clean and keep my legs strong to get to my club meet [later that day] and do well at that meet as well,” Whitehead said. “Zara and I are really close. She’s doing awesome and I’m impressed with her.”
Whitehead, who will be competing for the Rutgers University team next season, has several friends on the Stafford squad and hopes to attend Friday’s team competition.
“I love watching her [Whitehead] because she is so good. Really excited when she hits her routines,” said Christophe, who executed a back tuck on the beam to achieve a state qualifying score, besides advancing on vault.
“I think they did amazing. Zara had her best meet of the whole season,” Mountain View coach Josi Brooks said. “[Whitehead] is a natural competitor.”
Team scores: 1. Stafford 146, 2. Mountain View 138.075, 3. North Stafford 136.975, 4. Harrisonburg 105.825, 5. Brooke Point 104.575.
Vault: 1. Christina Bapple (NS) 9.7, 2 (tie). Abbey Whitehead (MV) and Zara Christophe (MV) 9.65, 4. Mackenzie Fox (NS) 9.525, 5. Sophia Housand (S) 9.4, 6. Kaitlyn Biecker (BP) 9.4.
Balance beam: 1. Housand (S) 9.6, 2. Kameryn Daniels (S) 9.525, 3. Bapple (NS) 9.225, 4. Christophe (MV) 9.15, 5. Biecker (BP) 8.8, 6 (tie). Keagan Habina (S) and Christina Beggs (S) 8.7.
Uneven bars: 1. Whitehead (MV) 9.45, 2. Housand (S) 9.1, 3. Daniels (S) 9.0, 4. Bapple (NS) 8.975, 5. Fox (NS) 8.95, 6. Christophe (MV) 8.9.
Floor exercise: 1. Beggs (S) 9.75, 2. Bapple (NS) 9.525, 3 (tie). Laney Krejdovsky and Whitehead (MV) 9.5, 5. Daniels (S) 9.425, 6. Habina (S) 9.325.
All-around: 1. Bapple (NS) 37.475, 2. Housand (S) 37.45, 3. Whitehead (MV) 37.35, 4. Christophe (MV) 37.05.