Lake Braddock’s gym brimmed with the most experienced and talented high school gymnasts in the area Tuesday night, but in the end it was a freshman who came out on top. Buoyed by a 9.700 score on the bars, South County’s Collea Burgess emerged from her four events with a cumulative total of 38.234 to capture the 6A North Region gymnastics all-around title.
Fairfax’s Rachel Barborek finished runner-up in the all-around with a 37.967 total highlighted by a meet-best 9.733 on the bars. Westfield’s Katie Freix turned in a meet-best 9.433 on the beam to claim third overall.
“There were a lot of really good gymnasts there,” said Val Taguding, head coach of South County and Hayfield. “The pressure can make or break you, and Collea kept in the moment. We kept her on a level keel, and she was clean throughout her routine.”
Burgess, one of two gymnasts representing South County at Tuesday’s meet, looked considerably sharper than she did at the Conference 7 meet earlier this month. According to Taguding, it takes time for club gymnasts to adjust to the different equipment and judging found in the high school format.
“It was good that she got that first one out from under her at Conferences,” Taguding said. “It really made her understand there’s a huge difference between club and high school. The environment, the difficulty and the judging is different. She’s a club kid, so she had to learn how that high school process was. Once she learned that, boy, she took off.”
Washington-Lee took home its third consecutive regional team title, edging runner-up McLean, 140.449 - 140.077. The Generals overcame McLean despite losing to them twice earlier this season, including at last week’s Conference 6 championships. Sophie Hatcher recorded the team’s highest individual score with a fourth-place 9.333 during the floor event. Her sister, Annie, was right behind with a sixth-place 9.200, adding to her fourth-place 9.550 on the vault.
Defending state champion Molly Overstreet took first place on the bars, her only event of the night. The Hayfield sophomore, back from a long layoff due to a concussion, at first earned a score of 8.7 on the bars that included a fall after one of the bars shifted during her routine. Taguding submitted a written request to re-do the event, one that was eventually granted after two more rotations. Despite going cold during the wait, Overstreet proceeded to execute a near-flawless routine that yielded a score of 9.750 to win the event.
The 1-5A and 6A state championships are set to take place this week at Salem High in Virginia Beach. Team events are scheduled for Thursday and Friday, while individual qualifiers will compete on Saturday.