In a typical year, a gymnastics meet is a raucous place.
Without fans in the stands due to COVID-19, this year wasn’t exactly a typical year, but the excitement was as palpable as ever as Fairfax took home the Class 6 state team title Saturday at Kellam High School in Virginia Beach, scoring 145.631 points to edge defending champion Ocean Lakes.
The Dolphins’ Kara Lee, who was the Class 6 Region A all-around runner-up, earned the day’s highest score on the floor exercise with a 9.483 as she helped lead her team to a second-place finish with a score of 144.996.
“We had our ups and downs. I know Kara put in a lot of upgrades and so I think she was a huge factor today in our runner-up finish,” Ocean Lakes head coach Jennifer Ramey said. “… I honestly am so proud of them. We’re happy to be here again. … I’m just really excited.”
In the four-team field, Colonial Forge was third with 140.668 points and fourth-place Washington Liberty had a score of 140.282.
Samantha Lee posted a 9.650 on the balance beam to lead the Dolphins and earn the day’s highest beam score while Ocean Lakes’ Brooke Gunter finished with a team-high 9.433 on the uneven parallel bars.
In one of the lone missteps of the day for Ocean Lakes, Kara Lee fell during her balance beam routine, but still came away with a score of 9.000 on the event. She was able to shake it off, and come back for her crucial floor routine.
“I’ve done gymnastics my whole life so … I’ve fallen a lot,” she said. “To be honest, that wasn’t that bad of a fall. … I’ve practiced a lot, so I knew I could get up and do it again. … I haven’t (fallen) in a long time, so I kind of knew it wouldn’t happen again. It’s just part of the sport.”
On the bars, Fairfax’s Kendall Vess led the field with a 9.450 while her teammate Payton Morrison had an event-high 9.650 on the vaulting exercise.
Many of the Dolphins will participate in Sunday’s individual competition. The event begins at noon at Kellam High School.
Heading into the individual championship, Kara Lee feels more confident after getting the chance to compete many of her skills for the first time in the team competition.
“I’m actually feeling really good,” she said. “I hate to say it, but I feel like today was almost a practice day because I haven’t competed half those skills before.”
It was a whirlwind season for the Dolphins, who competed in just three meets, including the state competition.
“We had one regular season meet, then we went to regionals, and then we’re here, so it’s definitely been a crazy ride, but I think it’s been a crazy ride for everyone,” Ramey said. “We’re just happy that we were able to have a season this year and that’s the most important thing.”