Stonewall beams over win

WOODBRIDGE The Stonewall Jackson gymnastics team knew that victory Wednesday night would depend on whether or not they could stay on the balance beam.

It was a frightful thought.

The beam has been the Raiders’ most turbulent event this season as much a rival in fact as Cedar Run District opponent Osbourn Park. They thought it was more than coincidence that conquering one nemesis on the night’s final rotation would allow them to beat another in a double dual meet at Woodbridge.

“We talked about it,” Stonewall senior Adriana Harvey said. “We got in our huddle and said we had to fight for everything and stay on. It was encouraging how determined and focused we were.”

Just four days after they produced their highest team score of the season to capture first place at the Courtland Holiday Classic, the Raiders’ determination resulted in a gratifying 136.3-136.05 win over Osbourn Park. Harvey scored a season-high 35.65 to finish second in the all-around and Stonewall delivered its best effort of the winter on beam to edge the Yellow Jackets in the closest dual meet of the year.

“We were definitely psyched to see OP and compare ourselves,” Harvey said. “It’s amazing how close the teams are.”

Stonewall’s 33.7 score of balance beam and Harvey’s first place finish on the uneven bars was the difference.

Osbourn Park, behind another individual all-around championship from Kelly Stevison, forced the Raiders to excel. Stevison won the balance beam, vault and floor competitions en route to a first-place overall score of 36.2, while Ashley Keller took fourth place honors with a 33.5.

“It was a really competitive meet. They obviously have a good team,” said Stevison, who scored a 9.4 on vault and a 9.4 on floor exercise.

“We knew how well they’d done Saturday and we wanted to keep up with that level and improve on our team score. We did that,” she continued. “Everything now is just leading up to districts.”

The Yellow Jackets improved on their season-opening score thanks in large part to Beth Ploger’s career-best all-around score of 33.4 and a 32.95 effort from Devon Alston. But, in the first of two regular season meetings between the Cedar Run’s only two teams, the Raiders were better.

“Always improve. That’s our motto,” Stonewall junior Laura Hancock said. “The last two meets have been so exciting. I’m so proud of us. We’re pulling together so well.”

Hancock scored a season-best 34.55 in the all-around to claim third place overall, while Ann Itnyre and freshman Carol Reed tied for sixth with a 32.95.

“We just have to keep that momentum going,” Harvey said.

The host Vikings competed with the same philosophy. Motivated by a large home crowd and Saturday’s second-place finish at Courtland, Woodbridge defeated Cardinal District rival Gar-Field, 137.15-134.45 in a meet that also went down to the final rotation.

Senior Rebecca Ruppert scored a 9.7 with a front-handspring, front tuck vault and earned her highest all-around total of the season with a 37.3 to finish first overall. Woodbridge claimed four of the top six scores in the all-around competition with Denise Flowers (34.4) finishing third, Alicea Hall (32.85) fifth and Jana Hester (32.5) sixth.

Gar-Field’s Tricia Smith scored a 35.4 to take second place overall and Megan Sullivan (34.05) was fourth.

“It was a competition between the four teams whether they want to put that in the book or not,” said Ruppert, who captured top honors on vault, floor and balance beam. “Our goal was to come in here and hit.”

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