Gymastics preview capsules


1. Stafford

2. Stonewall Jackson

3. Osbourn Park

4. Gar-Field

5. Forest Park



COACH: Cris Rhynedance

LAST SEASON: Third in Cardinal District.

GYMNAST TO WATCH: Elisa Rhynedance, Sophomore. A transfer from Hylton, Rhynedance is a Level 9 club performer at Capital Gymnastics in Burke. She qualified for the Group AAA state meet on the floor exercise in her first varsity season after placing second in the district all-around competition. At the Level 9 state club championships last winter, Rhynedance earned a silver medal on the vault and a bronze on beam. She was fourth in the all-around.

KEY LOSSES: National sports acro champion Allison Anoll.

TOP RETURNERS: Senior — Meredith Picard. Junior — Valerie Ierley, Jessica Kuschel. Sophomores — Caitlin Anthony, Nicole Blades, Christina Sporleder.

OTHER PROMISING NEWCOMERS: Senior — Jade Brown. Junior — Nikki Pilotti, Megan Mifflin. Freshmen — Holly Bagwell, Crystal Collins, Lindsey Skeens, Stephanie Sysak.

OUTLOOK: The Bruins have their best team in the program’s three-year history, though it may take until the end of the season for the squad to reach its full potential. Two top all-arounders — Elisa Rhynedance and Nicole Blades — are currently coming back from injuries. Rhynedance tore the meniscus in her left knee in July and is limited to bars and beam until at least January. Blades, who won the Level 8 state all-around championship in the 15-year-old division last winter, has a fractured disk in her back and is sidelined for at least a month. The good news for Forest Park is that junior Valerie Ierley, a Featherstone gymnast, is poised to have the best season of her three-year varsity career after qualifying for regionals on three events last winter. Senior Meredith Picard is also back, along with junior Jessica Kuschel. Another Featherstone club gymnast, Holly Bagwell, is expected to compete as an all-arounder in her freshman season and the Bruins received a huge boost when sophomore Jenny Novak, a former club gymnast at Novaks, decided to join the team.


COACH: Ray Roman

LAST SEASON: Cardinal District champions; Northwest Region champions; Seventh in Group AAA state meet.

GYMNAST TO WATCH: Tracy Cloninger, Junior. The hero of last season’s Northwest Region championship team, Cloninger scored a 9.675 on the balance beam — the final individual performance of the day — to clinch a 144.825-144.4 victory over Stafford. A Featherstone club gymnast, she was fifth in the regional all-around competition and also won the district balance beam title.

KEY LOSSES: State meet qualifier Tricia Smith.

OTHER TOP RETURNERS: Seniors — Ashley Lienau, Trevor Stanley, Megan Sullivan.

PROMISING NEWCOMERS: Senior — Kendra Lee. Freshmen — Erin Kameyama, Courtney Montgomery, Kelly Sullivan, Han Vo.

OUTLOOK: The Indians are coming off their best season in a quarter century. After beginning the year with a dual-meet score of 128.4, Gar-Field wound up scoring 144.825 points in the regional meet and qualified for the Group AAA state meet. Three of the all-arounders responsible for that remarkable achievement are back along with second-year coach Ray Roman. In addition to Tracy Cloninger, Gar-Field returns Cardinal District floor exercise champion Ashley Lienau and state meet qualifier Megan Sullivan. The Indians pulled off two postseason upsets to reach the state meet last winter. They beat Woodbridge to capture the Cardinal District championship and then ended Stafford’s six-year reign as Northwest Region champions.


COACH: Sue Bona-Bonacquisti

LAST SEASON: Cardinal District runners-up; Fourth in the Northwest Region.

GYMNAST TO WATCH: Rosanna Decoud, Freshman. The Vikings are eager to introduce their next all-around star to the rest of the state. Decoud comes to Woodbridge with great fanfare. She is a Level 9 club gymnast and a high school cheerleader who will undoubtedly make an impact in the Cardinal District.

KEY LOSSES: All-state gymnast and Northwest Region all-around champion Rebecca Ruppert, Jana Hester, Denise Flowers.

TOP RETURNERS: Senior — Alicea Hall. Juniors — Cassandra Brown, Christy Hartman, Johanna Mejia. Sophomore — Emily Johnson.

OTHER PROMISING NEWCOMERS: Junior — Jamie Epperson. Freshmen — Kara Baird, Elizabeth Williams.

OUTLOOK: After winning three consecutive Cardinal District championships, the Vikings were second last winter. The makings of another championship-caliber team are in place with Rosanna Decoud’s arrival and the continued improvement of three other gifted all-arounders. Senior Alicea Hall has one of the area’s best floor routines, while Featherstone gymnast Cassandra Brown and sophomore Emily Johnson will also be key performers on a promising young team. Regardless of where the Vikings end up this season as a team, head coach Sue Bona-Bonacquisti promises one thing: “We’re going to have fun.”



COACH: Monica Brown

LAST SEASON: Cedar Run District runners-up. Fifth in the Northwest Region.

GYMNAST TO WATCH: Kelly Stevison, Senior. The best gymnast to compete at Osbourn Park since 1985 state all-around champion Missy Sokol, Stevison has one more varsity season remaining. Last winter, she broke a bone in her right foot prior to the regional meet and still qualified for state in three events. Stevison won the inaugural Cedar Run District vault championship and will be one of the region’s premier all-arounders again this season.

KEY LOSSES: Erin Keating, Sara Longo.

OTHER TOP RETURNERS: Senior — Ashley Keller. Junior — Devon Alston. Sophomore — Beth Ploger.

PROMISING NEWCOMERS: Sophomore — Sally May.

OUTLOOK: The Yellow Jackets are excited about their potential this winter and understandably so. This is a team rich with all-around talent. Senior Kelly Stevison has been one of the state’s best gymnasts the past three years and she will be in the running once again for a Northwest Region all-around title. She is one of two Level 10 gymnasts on the roster with the arrival of GMS talent Sally May, who finished ninth all-around in the 11-14 age division of the Level 10 state meet last winter. May will compete on the uneven bars and balance beam in high school. The return of senior all-arounder Ashley Keller and two Level 8 club performers — Featherstone’s Beth Ploger and Devon Alston of Cardinal Gymnastics — makes OP a legitimate contender for a Group AAA state meet berth. Ploger finished 12th all-around in the 14-year-old division of last year’s Level 8 state meet, while Alston placed 10th all-around in the 15-year-old division.


COACH: Karen Lutman

LAST SEASON: Cedar Run District champions. Third in the Northwest Region.

GYMNAST TO WATCH: Laura Hancock, Senior. The motivational leader of Stonewall’s Cedar Run District championship team, Hancock captured the district’s all-around championship and the floor exercise title. She went on to qualify for the Group AAA state meet in two events.

KEY LOSSES: State meet qualifier Adriana Harvey, Elizabeth Ward.

OTHER TOP RETURNERS: Senior — Elizabeth Bowman. Junior — Ann Itnyre. — Sophomores — Kelly Morris, Carol Reed.

PROMISING NEWCOMERS: Sophomore — Angela Calonder. Freshman — Erin Stack.

OUTLOOK: The Raiders have another team with championship potential this season with four returning all-arounders and the arrival of star freshman Erin Stack, a Level 9 performer from GMS. Stack has the talent to be one of the region’s best all-arounders. She won a gold medal on the floor exercise and a silver medal in the 14-year-old all-around competition at the Level 8 state meet last winter. Sophomore Carol Reed qualified for the Group AAA state meet last season after winning the Cedar Run balance beam title and Laura Hancock also advanced to the state meet as an individual qualifier. Kelly Morris and Ann Itnyre have added more skill and difficulty to their already outstanding routines and Stonewall could wind up with seven all-arounders with former Level 7 club gymnast Angela Calonder returning from the Netherlands.



COACH: Becky Bowery

LAST SEASON: Third in the Commonwealth District

GYMNAST TO WATCH: Becca Howard, Junior. Howard wrapped up a magnificent season by placing 11th on the balance beam at the Group AAA state meet — scoring a 9.45 in her state debut. Howard, a Level 8 gymnast for the Stafford Royals, finished sixth in the Commonwealth District all-around competition and was fourth in the region on the balance beam. At the Level 8 state meet last year, Howard finished 11th in the all-around in the 16-older division, was fourth on the floor and sixth on the beam.

KEY LOSSES: Angela Felock, Kimber Glines, Anne Yanni

OTHER TOP RETURNERS: Senior — Elsie Oldaker. Sophomore — Sarah Eskew.

PROMISING NEWCOMERS: Sophomore — Meredith Walsh. Freshmen — Jamiris Marpel-Sanders, Sam Oldaker, Erin Stoecker.

OUTLOOK: The last time Brooke Point had this much talent they won the Commonwealth District championship and went on to finish sixth at the Group AAA state meet. That was five years ago. At the very least, the Black-Hawks would like to qualify for the Northwest Region meet this winter and they have two talented all-arounders capable of leading them in that direction. Becca Howard returns following a stellar 2001-02 season and Stafford Royals gymnast Elsie Oldaker — one of the team’s star performers two years ago — is back for her senior season. Elsie’s freshman sister, Sam, joins the varsity team this year, along with sophomore cheerleader Meredith Walsh and all-arounders Jamiris Marpel-Sanders and Erin Stoecker.


COACH: Teresa Collier

LAST SEASON: Fourth in the Commonwealth District.

GYMNAST TO WATCH: Megan Murray, Senior. Murray comes to Colonial Forge after competing for high school teams in Ohio and Texas. She is the Eagles’ most experienced varsity gymnast and will be the centerpiece of the all-around rotation along with freshman Rachel Gentry.

KEY LOSSES: Kerriann Galloway, Christen Itam, Nicole Wosnick

TOP RETURNER: Senior — Cheyenne Yeagley.

OTHER PROMISING NEWCOMERS: Sophomore — Lindsey Fletcher. Freshmen — Courtney Baker, Jessie Barton, Sammie Brinkmann, Rachel Gentry, Sarah Hightower, Jackie Picariello, Jessica Stough.

OUTLOOK: The arrival of seven freshmen and three transfers has the Eagles excited about the future. This year could be a lot of fun, too. Freshman Rachel Gentry will eventually be the Eagles’ star performer. She competed as a Level 10 gymnast for the Capital club team before undergoing elbow surgery last year. Gentry and senior Megan Murray anchor the all-around rotation that also features two other talented freshmen — Sammie Brinkmann and Jessica Stough. Sophomore Lindsey Fletcher joins the program from Orange County High School and will be a valuable point scorer along with freshman Jessie Barton.


COACH: Shannon Atkinson

LAST SEASON: Commonwealth District runners-up. Sixth in the Northwest Region.

GYMNAST TO WATCH: Kristen Kelly, Senior. A year after finishing eighth in the all-around competition at the Commonwealth District meet, Kelly will be the Wolverines’ featured performer. She placed among the top 10 on the uneven bars, balance beam and floor exercise at the district meet last winter to help the Wolverines clinch a berth to the Northwest Region meet.

OTHER TOP RETURNERS: Seniors — Kaylen Baker, Becky Varni. Junior — Stephanie Leyva. Sophomore — Michelle Warner.

PROMISING NEWCOMERS: Junior — Genna Love. Freshman — Alison Dennis.

OUTLOOK: Former Courtland High School gymnast Shannon Atkinson begins her first season as a varsity head coach as she takes over for Valerie Welch. Atkinson was a four-year member of the gymnastics squad at Courtland and won the Battlefield District all-around championship her senior year. Now a coach at Stafford Royals, Atkinson still holds the Courtland vault record with a score of 9.45. Despite the unexpected loss of star all-arounder Nikki Doke, North Stafford hopes to return to the Northwest Region meet. Doke qualified for state in three events as a junior, but has become more involved in cheerleading this year. The Wolverines still have five talented all-arounders with seniors Kristen Kelly and Kaylen Baker leading the way. Junior Stephanie Leyva, sophomore Michelle Varni and freshman Alison Dennis, a former club gymnast who competed in Level 7 for Stafford Royals, will also be part of the all-around rotation while junior Genna Love will perform on floor and vault.


COACH: Shawn Smith

LAST SEASON: Commonwealth District champions. Second in the Northwest Region.

GYMNAST TO WATCH: Jennifer Little, Senior. Little captured the Commonwealth District all-around championship with a score of 37.325 and nearly won the Northwest Region title a year ago. She will be in contention for the regional crown once again in her final varsity season. Little was the district balance beam and floor exercise champion and had the area’s best finish at the Group AAA state meet — placing 17th in the all-around

KEY LOSSES: State meet qualifier Sarah Brown, Chanelle Noel.

OTHER TOP RETURNERS: Senior — Tiffany Kerby. Junior — Colleen Schwartz.

PROMISING NEWCOMERS: Senior — Christen Itam. Freshmen — Allison Brooks, Angie Clements, Adrianna DeFreese.

OUTLOOK: The defending Commonwealth District champions have assembled another team capable of making a run at the Group AAA state championship. With a lineup that features six all-arounders, the Indians will be looking for their fourth straight Commonwealth District title and their seventh regional title in eight years. Senior Jennifer Little is the gymnast with the most postseason experience, but Stafford’s lineup is full of talent. Junior Colleen Schwartz is a state meet qualifier and the reigning district vault champion, while Tiffany Kerby placed third in the district on vault and fifth on the floor. Add former Colonial Forge gymnast Christen Itam and two club level gymnasts to the mix and it’s easy to understand the Indians’ eagerness to compete. Freshman Allison Brooks, of Capital, won the 14-year-old all-around championship and individual gold medals on uneven bars and balance beam at the Level 8 state meet last year. Freshman Angie Clements was 14th in the Level 8 all-around competition as a member of the Stafford Royals.

NOTE: Hylton High School, Potomac High School and Osbourn High School did not field gymnastics teams for the 2002-03 season.

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