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Quite a Balancing Act

W.T. Woodson’s Adrienne Kravitz provides backbone for young gymnastics squad.

When Adrienne Kravitz first started gymnastics, she was unable to do what would become her favorite event: the balance beam. She was too focused on other things, namely walking and talking.

Kravitz was born in Albuquerque, N.M. and began baby classes when she was only 18 months old —not an absurdly young age for a gymnast but an early start nonetheless.

“I guess I ran around a lot and other people didn’t,” Kravitz joked.

Kravitz, now a junior at W.T. Woodson High School, moved with her family to Fairfax County when she was 6 and soon after enrolled to take more rigorous classes at the Fairfax Gymnastics Academy.

“I think I liked [uneven] bars then, just because I liked swinging around,” Kravitz said.

When she arrived at W.T. Woodson for her freshman year, Kravitz joined the cheerleading team. As holds true with most freshman sports, freshman cheerleading didn’t require a lot of leadership. Kravitz learned from some of the older girls, always careful not to say too much.

After the fall season concluded, Kravitz joined the girls gymnastics squad, and like her early start with the sport, Kravitz was thrust into a situation not often faced by someone her age.

<b>DESPITE TWO</b> Liberty District titles in the two seasons prior to Kravitz’s arrival, W.T. Woodson coach Mike Cooper lost most of his experienced gymnasts to graduation.

Kravitz was one of a select few with any sort of formal training and was put in the awkward position of trying to assist girls nearly four years older than her.

“She led by example. Everybody looked for her to try and improve their skills,” Cooper said. “She’s more of a team player. She doesn’t care about herself; she cares about the team.”

“The coaches told me to help out everyone, which I was really excited to do even as a freshman,” Kravitz said. “It was harder freshman year just because I felt awkward telling older girls how to do things.”

During her freshman year, Kravitz developed an affinity for the balance beam. She had been attracted to the uneven bars as a youngster but began to enjoy the challenge that flipping, twisting and contorting one’s body on a narrow beam presents.

As if the event itself doesn’t provide enough of a challenge, Kravitz constantly increases the difficulty of her routines, never afraid of a challenge. The results sometimes leave Kravitz without a particularly impressive score but with the satisfaction of challenging herself.

<b>THE MOST</b> recent example came last Friday night during a six-team meet at Chantilly High School, featuring area powerhouses Herndon, Chantilly and Lake Braddock when Kravitz was up against two of the area’s best — Maria Hayden from Herndon and Elly Taura of Chantilly.

“I think [the quality of competition] benefits everyone because the girls are able to see each other, get ideas, and take what they have and improve it,” said Lake Braddock coach Ellen Hagan-Bowerman.

Kravitz took what she had, turned it upside down a few times, and the results weren’t exactly what she was looking for. With 8.25 points on the balance beam, Kravitz finished a pedestrian 11th. In the all-around, she came in 14th (32.000).

As a team, W.T. Woodson took fifth place with 116.650 points, which were nearly 28 points less than first-place Chantilly. According to Kravitz and Cooper, the Cavaliers have yet to finish rebuilding from the losses following that 2005-06 season.

Kravitz has matured and thrived in her role as a team leader. Cassie Meeker, for one, has picked up on Kravitz’s appetite for competition and practice and finished 14th with 29.800 points last Friday.

The Cavaliers also received outstanding efforts from Morgan Hedden (19th, 27.600), Lizzy Fisher (20th, 25.800) and Lindsey Owens (25th, 22.900).

Three years removed from his team’s last district title, Cooper has found a solid foundation for his team to lean on, even if her margin for error doesn’t exceed the width of a four-inch beam.

“Adrienne is good on the beam because she likes to try new things,” Cooper said. “I don’t think she’s successful all the time, but [on Friday] she tried a more difficult routine. She enjoys challenging herself and trying new skills and most of the time it pays off.”