Ierley has career showing

WOODBRIDGE — Valerie Ierley had no idea she was leading the all-around competition midway through Wednesday’s dual meet against Woodbridge. It never even occurred to her that it was possible.

Forest Park’s talented sophomore came to the gym figuring, like everyone else, that Vikings senior Rebecca Ruppert would earn the highest overall score of the night. She was right, but the best performance of Ierley’s varsity career created a bit of competitive drama.

Though Ruppert won three individual events — balance beam (9.5), floor exercise (9.45) and uneven bars (8.5) — and placed second on vault (9.3) to capture her second individual all-around title of the season, Ierley wasn’t far behind. The Bruins’ top gymnast entertained the crowd by hitting her signature punch front mount on beam and parlayed a second place finish in that event into a 35.1 in the all-around.

“That’s the highest I’ve ever gotten,” said Ierley, who was still smiling after receiving a congratulatory group hug from her Bruins teammates.

“I wanted second place,” she said. “Rebecca’s really good and that pushed me harder to stick everything and not fall.”

A 9.3 on balance beam was the highlight of Ierley’s performance and it gave her a brief one-tenth of a point lead over Ruppert after two rotations. Although she scolded herself for failing to connect her back handspring series, Ierley didn’t dwell long on the miscue. There were too many other successes to celebrate — a roundoff, back handspring, half twist tumbling pass on floor, for instance.

“I’m back at club this year. I worked out all summer and I’m more confident,” said Ierley, who also executed a straddle back and half pirouette on the uneven bars. “I’ve cleaned up things a little bit and worked on a lot of stuff. There’s more I want to do.”

Ierley, a Level 9 gymnast at Featherstone, finished third on the floor and also tied for third on vault. She shared the awards podium spotlight with freshman teammate Nicole Blades, who won the vault with a splendid pike Tsukahara (9.4) and finished fourth in the all-around with a score of 34.4. Sophomore Jessica Kuschel took third place honors on balance beam and freshman Allison Anoll was fourth on the floor exercise.

Ruppert eclipsed the 36.0-point mark for the second consecutive week in the all-around competition — this time scoring a season-best 36.75 to lead the Vikings to a 136.35-121.65 victory. The Vikings, who are seeking their fourth consecutive Cardinal District championship improved their team score by nearly three points with a third-place all-around performance from Denise Flowers (34.7), a season-best score of 32.3 from senior Jana Hester and the return of Alicea Hall from a toe injury.

Hall, who was limited to just two events in last week’s win over Stonewall Jackson, tied for second on the uneven bars and finished fifth in the all-around with a 32.6.


Stafford senior Sarah Brown warmed up with her teammates on three events Wednesday night and decided she was ready to test the durability of her injured left ankle.

“She really wanted to do it, to see where she’s at,” Stafford coach Shawn Smith said.

After performing on only one event — the uneven bars — at the season-opening South Lakes Invitational, Brown helped the Indians score 138.1 points in a dual meet victory over Brooke Point. Her return to the all-around rotation is probably still several weeks away, but Brown’s contribution enabled Stafford to post the area’s highest team score of the season.

She won the uneven bars with a score of 9.55, placed second on the balance beam with an 8.9 and was third on vault with an 8.5.

“It was exciting to watch,” Smith said. “She’s still capable of doing gymnastics and very capable of scoring even though she doesn’t do all the big tricks.”

The big tricks on Wednesday came from junior Jennifer Little, who captured individual floor exercise, balance beam and vault titles and the all-around championship with a 36.0. Little used a roundoff-full twist dismount on beam to score a season-best 9.0. She also earned a 9.0 on the uneven bars and a 9.2 on floor.

Sophomore Colleen Schwartz finished second in the all-around with a 34.9 and Brooke Point’s Anne Yanni (27.0) was third. The Black-Hawks had a 97.15 team score.

In Wednesday’s other Commonwealth District dual meet, North Stafford’s Nikki Doke scored a 34.2 to win the all-around as the Wolverines topped Colonial Forge 114.65-42.75.

Doke won individual titles on the vault (8.9), beam (7.9) and uneven bars (8.45). Teammate Kristen Kelly won the floor exercise with a 9.0 — the highest event score of the competition.


The loudest cheer during the awards ceremony at Forest Park Wednesday night came from the Hylton gymnastics team. And the Bulldogs didn’t even win their dual meet against Stonewall Jackson.

Winning, of course, wasn’t the point.

The Bulldogs were happy simply to field a complete team.

Just a week ago, only one Hylton gymnast performed on the floor exercise. Two Bulldogs competed on the uneven bars.

After scoring 79.7 points in their season opener, the Bulldogs had good reason to celebrate their effort against Stonewall. Though the Raiders won the team competition with a season-best score of 133.25, Hylton came up with a milestone achievement of its own.

Behind a pair of first place performances from senior Jessica Lorenzo, the Bulldogs scored 117.2 points — a team total that would have beaten North Stafford, Colonial Forge and Brooke Point on Wednesday night.

“They had a little party,” Hylton coach Tina Bapple said

Lorenzo was primarily responsible for the festive mood. She won the uneven bars competition (8.8) and the balance beam (8.7), took fourth place on vault (8.6) and wound up third in the all-around with a four-event total of 33.2.

Bulldogs freshman Elisa Rhynedance took fourth place overall with a 32.6 in her all-around debut. Rhynedance, the daughter of Forest Park coach Cris Rhynedance, was second on the uneven bars and third on balance beam.

Hylton also received a tremendous boost from Millie Dike, Bethany Wolstenholme, Natasha Marple and Sarah Crane, who each contributed to the final team score.


A stripped tension wire anchor in the floorboard of Gar-Field’s gym prevented use of the uneven bars during Wednesday’s dual meet between the host Indians and Osbourn Park. Because National Federation of State High Schools rules require four events for an official team score to be counted, gymnasts competed in a scrimmage competition that included only the floor exercise, balance beam and vault.

Osbourn Park’s Kelly Stevison won the vault — using a Phelps (handspring-half twist onto the vault and half twist-front tuck landing) and pike Tsukahara to score a 9.35. The Yellow Jackets junior also finished first on floor with a 9.3. Gar-Field’s Tricia Smith took top honors on balance beam with a 9.2.

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