Joe D’emidio, in his 33rd season as head coach of the Washington-Lee gymnastics team, has plenty of experience. However, it’s a group of freshmen who make the 2009-10 Generals one of the best team’s he’s coached.
Led by freshmen Mary Lynn Clark, Madeleine Sendek, Kylie Auble and Maia Mandel, Washington-Lee breezed past the competition during a Dec. 16 meet at Yorktown. The Generals finished with 137.25 points, nearly 20 more than second-place Fairfax (118.75). Mount Vernon finished third (93.3), followed by Yorktown (91) and Wakefield (35.55).
D’emidio, who is also the Wakefield head coach, has 20 girls on his Washington-Lee roster, 10 of which are freshmen. D’emidio said the team has quality depth and could be good for years to come.
"I have a lot of new freshmen who are carrying the team," he said. "We’re scoring historically high team scores in the 33 years I’ve been coaching here. I’ve got a really good, solid team this year."
Clark was the top individual gymnast at the meet, scoring 36 points. She finished first on the beam (9.4), vault (9.2) and tied for first on the floor (8.8). She came in second on the bars (8.6).
Clark said she most enjoys competing on the floor, though she acknowledged it’s not her best event. But while she competes like a season veteran, Clark admitted she still experiences jitters.
"I get kind of nervous when people from my school come watch me because that’s never happened," she said. "It can be kind of nerve-wracking when you see people you actually know. At club meets, there’s no one you know in the stands except your parents."
Washington-Lee’s Auble won the bars with a score of 8.65. Generals junior Samantha Sachs tied for first on the floor (8.8), Sendek finished second on the beam (9.0) and Mandel tied for second on the vault (9.1).
Seniors Myeisha McBee and Lizzie Ixchel Ramos-Palma, juniors Megan Adkins-Blanch, Alexandria Arriaza and Irene Khuu and sophomores Ashley Bach, Leah Crangle, Joanna De La Via and Alejandra Jimenez-Jaramillo, and freshmen Morgan Burns, Sonia Holar, Brittany Mirro, Liliana Olsen, Nicole Stevens and Emilia Zevallos-Roberts are also on the team.
<b>Wakefield Takes Fifth</b>
Juniors Jovani Garrett and Ada Uhegwu were the only athletes competing for Wakefield, which finished fifth. Garrett, who D’emidio referred to as a "star" scored an 8.7 on the vault, 8.0 on the bars, and 8.25 on the beam.
Junior Eduardo Andrade and sophomore Amy Mackellar are also on the team.
<b>Yorktown Places Fourth</b>
Yorktown only has five gymnasts on its roster, but that’s OK with sophomore Natasha Koermer, who head coach Joanne Price called the team’s top athlete.
"We don’t have a big team this year," she said, "but everyone that’s here is pretty devoted."
The Patriots took fourth at the meet, finishing 2.3 points behind third-place Mount Vernon. Koermer finished third on the bars with a score of 8.35.
Also on the team are juniors Natalie Yoder, Jayanna Smith and Carolyn Serraino, along with freshman Jessi Mitrovich.
With the top four individual scores counting as a team’s score, Price said the five-person team has a goal other than just winning.
"For us, a goal is to just stay healthy and keep practicing and do what we can do," she said. "I think we’ll show pretty well if we have everybody practicing hard and working toward making it to regionals as our team goal."