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Gymnastics notepad: Wide-open season set to open

The curtain goes up on the Commonwealth District gymnastics season this week.

Colonial Forge, North Stafford and Orange high schools will compete at Mountain View High School this Wednesday. Several local teams are then headed to either Great Bridge High School in Chesapeake or Battlefield High School in Prince William County for weekend invitationals.

The early-season meets and invitationals should be very interesting for setting the tone for the rest of the winter, mostly because there are so many unknowns this year.

Three of the five 2012 Free Lance–Star All-Area gymnasts have graduated, including Colonial Forge’s two-time FLS gymnast of the year, Ashley Elston.

Fifteen girls grabbed either a top-eight in a district event or top-four in the all-around last year; seven of those athletes graduated.

Of the eight gymnasts that are returning this season, just four—Stafford junior Ashley Hinton, Brooke Point senior Dylana Wilhelm, North Stafford junior Siobhan Bernard and Stafford sophomore Brynne Reeves—placed in more than one event at the district championships.

Hinton was second and Wilhelm third in the Commonwealth all-around in 2012, and they would have to be considered the favorites to battle for that title this winter.

And Stafford’s usual depth probably makes the Indians the leaders out of the gate for the team title. But after Wilhelm and Hinton, there are many vacant spots for a yet-unknown gymnast to fill.

The competition to fill those spots begins Wednesday.

—Justin Rice