Lake Braddock's run of gymnastics domination is over, at least for one season. On Feb. 4 at the Patriot District gymnastics finals, the Bruins were unable to win their third straight gymnastics title as district newcomer W.T. Woodson walked away with the title.
Woodson won the team title with a score of 139.425 with Lake Braddock trailing in second at 134.650. West Potomac took third with a 126.075 score.
Prior to the 2009-10 season, Woodson entered the Patriot District fray from the Liberty District and since then have created a budding rivalry with the Bruins in football, basketball and other team sports.
Go ahead and add gymnastics to that list. Woodson's upset victory at the 2009-10 Patriot District gymnastics finals is just another chapter in the growing Lake Braddock and Woodson rivalry.
"It's been a tough season for [the team] with Woodson coming into the district," head coach Ellen Hagan-Bowerman said. "But the girls did well. I am proud of them."
The Bruins got off to a fast start at the district finals, taking first place as a team in the vault and uneven bars, but they couldn’t top the Cavaliers in balance beam and floor exercise events.
"It was stressful," sophomore Caitlin Liberatore said. "Woodson is our biggest rival. By the time we got to [the balance beam] the pressure got to us."
Liberatore also expressed the desire to live up to Lake Braddock's gymnastics legacy added an extra degree of difficulty to the night.
"We had a weight on our shoulders," she said. "But we gave it the best try we could. It showed in our scores."
Hagan-Bowerman praised her team's spirited efforts, singling out some of the top performers, including Liberatore.
"She really brought everything to the table tonight," she said.
Hagan-Bowerman also cited the gritty effort by captain Katie Kubik.
"[She] has been out with several ankle injuries and came back to be outstanding on the bars," Hagan-Bowerman said. Kubik scored a team high 9.050 on the bars and finished second overall in the event.
Another strong performance came from sophomore Elizabeth White who finished 10th in the all-around competition despite an injury early in the competition.
"[White] had her shoulder pop out, but she continued to work hard despite the injury," Hagan-Bowerman said. "She was really great for us tonight."
Hagan-Bowerman also welcomed the new rivalry with Lake Braddock.
"It was nice to have someone to compete against," she said. "Our district hasn't been very strong for a long time, so it was nice to have someone you look forward [to facing]."
Only two other teams in the past 15 years have won a Patriot District title. In 2003 and 2004 Robinson won the title, and in 2007 West Springfield wore the crown.
Adding another plot to the evolving rivalry between Woodson and Lake Braddock is that both teams practice together throughout the season.
"It's kind of hard," she said. "Woodson, Annandale, Falls Church and [Lake Braddock] practice as one big team. We all know what we have, so there's no surprises."
While the practices aren't super-intense and the girls often make new friends from other schools, Hagan-Bowerman said it's hard to cheer against the other teams major competitions.
"We all help each other out," she said. "But when you get here, you want everyone to do well. You don't want to pick sides."
While the Cavs are Patriot District newcomers, W.T. Woodson head coach Mike Cooper is more than familiar with the district's competition.
Cooper was head coach of Lake Braddock's gymnastics team from 1988 to 2000.
"It was neat to come back," Cooper said. "I was excited when we heard about the switch. I know Lake Braddock is a perennial favorite [in the Patriot District] so it was fun to go against them."
Lake Braddock and W.T. Woodson will now advance to the Northern Region finals on Feb. 11 at Lake Braddock Secondary School.