By Owen Gotimer
Leesburg (February 3, 2017) – The rest of the gymnasts were finished competing. She had one event to go. All eyes were on her as she took a deep breath before the first of several tumbling passes in her floor routine.
In front of a home crowd in Leesburg, Heritage High School sophomore Leah Trepal, not only had the pressure of being the conference-favorite on her shoulders, but also the weight of hundreds of eyes as she finished out the Conference 21B meet on February 1. After turning in top performance after top performance throughout the season, Trepal’s conference title hopes hung in the balance of this one final event.
As she finished her floor routine, the Pride faithful cheered on, but the math still had to be calculated: 9.700.
Trepal had won the floor exercise and in doing so, solidified her place atop the conference all-around podium.
“I was pretty nervous heading into the last rotation,” Trepal said. “But I had enough confidence to go out there and give it my all.”
Trepal finished with top scores in the vault (9.800) and floor (9.700), the third best score on the beam (9.300) and the fourth best score on the uneven bars (8.775). Her all-around score of 37.575 was just .8 points better than that of Rock Ridge High School sophomore Ashley Wilkins.
Trepal, Wilkins, Riverside freshman Julie Armand and Loudoun Valley freshman Jenna Haran will all advance to the VHSL 5A North region meet in the all-around. Additionally, the top 8 finishers in each event will advance to the region championships, including Heritage sophomore Kaitlyn Gentille, who placed eighth in the vault.
“I really enjoyed supporting my team and being here for Heritage,” Trepal said. “I’m excited that I get to go to regionals with Kaitlyn.”
On top of individual region qualifiers, the top two teams in the conference will also advance: Conference 21B champion Loudoun Valley High School and runner-up Riverside High School.
“Our goal coming in was to finish in the top two,” Loudoun Valley head coach Jennifer Barlow said. “We knew just by looking at the scores that were being put up throughout the season, where we stood coming in. But nothing matters until this meet. We knew what we could do if we put all our cards in a row.”
The Lady Vikings cards did indeed fall into the right places as Haran and junior McKenna Magoffin turned in career bests in the all-around to lead Loudoun Valley to the team title.
“We scored our highest score of the whole season tonight. I kept telling the girls that it’s 24 routines, one right after the other,” Barlow said. “Your teammates are there to back you up if you falter. But luckily, we didn’t have a problem at all tonight.”
The Lady Vikings, the Lady Rams and the other qualifying gymnasts advance to the VHSL 5A North region meet at Park View High School on February 8.
“It’s another week to help these girls improve their skills and move on,” Barlow said. “It’s another day to compete.”