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Prep Gymnastics: District’s best gymnasts trust their stuff at invitational

BLACK-HAWKS’ WILHELM, INDIANS’ BERNARD

ARE STRONG AT WINTERFEST INVITATIONAL

BY JUSTIN RICE

THE FREE LANCE-STAR

It’s hard to overstate how important confidence is to a gymnast. Difficult routines and skills literally mean risking serious injury. And the poise and swagger a confident gymnast carries can certainly pay off with judges.

Confidence is huge and for at least two of the local gymnasts competing yesterday in Colonial Forge’s Winterfest Invitational, it’s meant all the difference this season.

Brooke Point senior Dylana Wilhelm was second in the all-around and North Stafford junior Siobhan Bernard fifth, continuing her climb into the ranks of the Commonwealth District’s best all-arounders.

Both Brooke Point coach Sarah Brown and North Stafford coach Annie Barr agreed: It’s about confidence.

“It’s such a mental sport,” Brown said, “it really does come down to that.”

Great Bridge won the Blue Division’s team title, led by all-around champion Courtney Adams. She had an impressive day, placing first on beam, bars, floor and was third on vault.

Led by all-around fourth-place finisher Ashley Hinton, Stafford was second.

Colonial Forge won the Green Division and Osbourn Park’s Abby Whitacre claimed that all-around title.

Only Adams’ superb day outshined Wilhelm.

The three-time Free Lance–Star all-area first-teamer won the vault, was third on bars and second on beam and floor. Wilhelm was strong before this season, and has continued to improve.

“Each year we’ve watched her grow with her confidence and it’s coming out in her routines,” Brown said. “Her vault is more powerful. She’s getting more height and she’s really cleaned it up.

“And her floor presentation has gotten better.”

Bernard’s poor showing on the beam—she fell twice and finished with a 7.6—was the only thing that stopped a higher finish for North Stafford’s best all-arounder. She was second on bars and a floor routine boosted by a new skill and several new dance elements was third, behind only Wilhelm’s and Adams’ exceptional performances.

Bernard’s growth and improvement over the last year has been noteworthy.

Barr said she knew the former club gymnast could be a good high school all-arounder. Bernard just had to believe in herself.

“I think she could have been her freshman year, but it really was a confidence thing,” the coach said. “She didn’t know she could do it.”

Bernard has learned to have more faith in her talent, and it’s led to better results in the gym.

“I’m trying to do new things now, to do big skills, to be a big girl,” she joked. “I think I’ve become more confident on every event. I used to be very timid. I wouldn’t try new things. I would play it safe.

“I think my club background helped, and the support of my team that’s encouraged me to do new skills I never thought I could do.”

    BLUE DIVISION

    Team scores: 1. Great Bridge 111.85; 2. Stafford 109.05; 3. Brooke Point 102.375; 4. Mountain View 98.825; 6. North Stafford 97.4.

    Vault: 1. Dylana Wilhelm (BP) 9.525; 2. Lauren Esprit (GB) 9.45; 3. Courtney Adams (GB) 9.425.

    Bars: 1. Adams (GB) 9.625; 2. Siobhan Bernard (NS) 9.35; 3. Wilhelm (BP) 9.325.

    Beam: 1. Adams (GB) 9.75; 2. Wilhelm (BP) 9.5; 3. Rachel Storm (St) 9.45.

    Floor: 1. Adams (GB) 9.825; 2. Wilhelm (BP) 9.8; 3. Bernard (NS) 9.675.

    All-around: 1. Adams (GB) 38.625; 2. Wilhelm (BP) 38.15; 3. Ashley Lee GB 37.275; 4. Ashley Hinton (St) 36.925; 5. Bernard (NS) 35.975.

    GREEN DIVISION

    Team scores: 1. Colonial Forge 101.9; 2. Salem 97.6; 3. Osbourn Park 94.95.

    Vault: 1. Deanna Knox (OP) 9.15; 2. Courtney Grogesky (Sa) 9.0; 3. Mollie Clemons (CF) 8.85.

    Bars: 1. Abby Whitacer (OP) 8.625; 2. Kelsey McCarthy (GB) 8.15; 3. Haley Cooper (CF) 8.1.

    Beam: t–1. Cooper (CF) 8.9; t–1. Alyssa Del Prete (PF) 8.9; 3. Clemons (CF) 8.525.

    Floor: 1. Grogesky (Sa) 9.45; 2. Ashleigh Bryant (Ha) 8.975; 3. Jessie Lupi (CF) 8.95.

    All-around: 1. Whitacre (OP) 34.375; 2. Del Prete (PF) 34.35; 3. Shannon Lea (CF) 34.0; 4. Cooper (CF) 33.95.

Justin Rice: 540/368-5045

jrice@freelancestar.com

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