McLean gymnast Lizzy Brown-Kaiser dismounted from the uneven bars, stuck the landing and celebrated with a smile toward head coach Courtney Lesson.
During Monday’s ultra-competitive Conference 6 championship meet, which one of the region’s top teams was guaranteed to leave empty handed, Brown-Kaiser kept her cool and came up clutch, placing in the top eight in three of four events.
AT THE CONCLUSION of the meet, Brown-Kaiser celebrated by hugging a teammate, reacting when Washington-Lee was announced as runner-up, meaning McLean captured its fourth consecutive Liberty District/Conference 6 championship. The Highlanders held off W-L and Yorktown in a tightly-contested three-team battle.
McLean earned the title with a score of 143. W-L finished runner-up and earned the conference’s second and final regional berth with a score of 142.225. Yorktown, a talented team that performed well at times during the regular season, produced a score of 141, leaving the Patriots on the outside looking in at the 6A North region championship meet, scheduled for Feb. 11 at Lake Braddock Secondary School.
“It’s a really great feeling because this is our senior year and there was a lot of pressure to keep our conference championship title [streak],” Brown-Kaiser said, “so it feels great to fulfill that.”
Fellow senior Jacqueline Green said: “It’s great to do it for the fourth year in a row.”
Green placed second in the all-around with a total score of 36.625. She tied for third on vault (9.6), placed fourth on bars (9), finished fifth on floor (9.125) and tied for sixth on beam (8.9).
Brown-Kaiser placed third in the all-around (36.425). She placed third on bars (9.225), tied for third on vault (9.6), tied for seventh on floor (8.8) and tied for ninth on beam (8.8).
Both qualified for regionals in the all-around.
“They did good,” Lesson said of McLean’s senior duo. “They hit three of four routines --- they both had a fall on beam. We still have a couple more meets to go, so hopefully they’ll get better.”
McLean’s Calista Pardue (fourth, 8.95) and Jennie Korb (sixth, 8.9) both qualified for regionals on beam (top eight or 9.0). Carolyn Brown-Kaiser finished sixth on vault (9.45). Mathilde Larose tied for ninth on vault with a score of 9.15.
Washington-Lee senior Sophie Hatcher won the all-around with a score of 37.625.
“It feels so good because at all my other meets, I didn’t ever hit all four [events] --- I always had some mistake --- but today I hit all four and I’m really happy. This is the best meet I’ve ever had in all my four years of high school.”
MCLEAN SETS ITS SIGHTS on regionals, where the Highlanders have finished runner-up to Washington-Lee each of the last three seasons. Last year, McLean went on to finish second in the state.
“They’ve beaten us the past few years at regionals,” Green said, “so we hope to come back this year and take it.”
Fairfax senior Rachel Barborek, the defending 2014 conference all-around champion, placed fourth with a score of 36.250. Other gymnasts who earned regional berths in the all-around include: W-L’s Annie Hatcher (36.2), Yorktown’s Juliette Mitrovich (35.85), Yorktown’s Bella Kane (35.725) and Hayfield’s Molly Overstreet (35.675).
Overstreet, a two-time state champion, won the conference bars title (9.5). Barborek won the beam (9.425) championship. Hatcher won vault (9.75) and floor (9.575) championships.
Mitrovich said qualifying for regionals as an all-around will only slightly numb the disappointment of not qualifying as a team.
“It [helps] a little bit,” Mitrovich said, “but it would have been nice to make it because we’ve beaten W-L almost all year and they just had a good meet this one time and we didn’t get to make it, but it is what it is.”
Fairfax finished fourth as a team with a score of 125.275, followed by Hayfield (121.1), South Lakes (115.125), Madison (108.7) and Langley (81.3).