Wednesday, May 14, 2008

B-CC’s Walters sits county’s gymnastics throne

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Chris Rossi⁄The Gazette
B-CC sophomore Ebony Walters performs her floor exercise at last Thursday’s county championships. Walters won the individual all-around and helped B-CC take the team title, too.
A new queen was crowned during last Thursday’s Montgomery County Public Schools gymnastics meet at Bethesda-Chevy High School.

After sweeping the county and state all-around championships the past two seasons as a sophomore and junior, Blake senior Danae Johnson, the two-time Gazette Gymnast of the Year, was forced to relinquish her throne, at least at the county level, to Bethesda-Chevy Chase’s Ebony Walters. The sophomore placed first or second in all four events to end Johnson’s reign en route to the county all-around championship, producing a meet-best score of 38.25. Her efforts also helped B-CC retain the county team title it won last year.

‘‘[Johnson’s] really good so I’m happy with myself,” Walters said. ‘‘I think I performed my best this year. I had a good season. It was fun ... .”

Walters, a Level 10 gymnast who competes for MarVa Teens in Rockville, squeaked by Johnson, who finished with a 38.1. She did so with a strong overall performance that included placing first on both the balance beam (9.5) and the floor exercise (9.65), while Johnson placed fifth on the balance beam (9.3) and second on the floor exercise (9.625).

‘‘I did my best,” said Johnson, who will compete for Rutgers University on scholarship next fall. ‘‘There’s always somebody better than you. I’m pretty happy knowing I did my best. I’m just excited about going to college next year.”

Walters, who took 10th in the all-around a year ago, also took second on vault to Johnson (9.825 to 9.675) and on the uneven bars to Blake’s Nicole Williams (9.55 to 9.425).

‘‘She had stopped competing for her club team before ninth grade and last year she competed for us in high school and kind of decided to get back into it,” said B-CC coach Dana Creager of Walters. ‘‘I think the year break was good for her. She started back at MarVa Teens as soon as the gymnastic season was over last year.

‘‘She competed year round ... so of course being back in the gym training full-time [helped this season]. She’s a competitive girl. She wants to come out and do well. I think really brought it tonight. She did a couple of skills she hadn’t been doing earlier this year. She did great.”

Walters’ performance coupled with strong showings from Whitney Boross (35.975, 6th in the all-around), Steph Golob (34.75, 10th), Lydia Marks (33.6, 15th) and Katie Pelton (27.475, 24th) propelled the Barons to first place for the second straight year with a new county record of 180.85.

Walter Johnson placed second again with a score of 172.95 followed by Sherwood (167.125), Blake (162.625), Blair (151.4) and Springbrook (139.3). Both B-CC and Walter Johnson qualified for Wednesday’s state meet at Arundel High in Gambrills. The Barons won their second state title overall last year.

‘‘It’s exciting because we all worked really hard to get there,” Pelton said. ‘‘So it was nice for all the work to pay off.”

Freshman Shannon Mitchell paced Walter Johnson by placing third in the all-around with a score of 37.1. She placed sixth or higher in all four events, including second on the balance beam (9.425) and third on vault (9.6).

‘‘I think I did OK ... but it probably wasn’t my best meet,” Mitchell said. ‘‘I pushed through it. I think I did pretty good on vault and beam.”

Blake’s Williams (37.0) and Springbrook’s Hannah Brande (36.85) rounded out the top five in the all-around, respectively. Alexi Banda returned from last year’s season-long injury to pace Sherwood by taking seventh in the all-around with a score of 35.95. Blair’s top performer, Sopia Seidell, finished ninth in the all-around with a score 34.9.

Note: Any gymnast who finished sixth or better in any of the four events at the county meet also qualified for the state meet, so Johnson will have a chance to defend her state title.

1. Bethesda-Chevy Chase 180.85; 2. Walter Johnson 172.95; 3. Sherwood 167.125; 4. Blake 162.625; 5. Blair 151.4; 6. Springbrook 139.3

1. Ebony Walters (B-CC) 38.25; 2. Danae Johnson (Blake) 38.1; 3. Shannon Mitchell (WJ) 37.1; 4. Nicole Williams (Blake) 37.0; 5. Hannah Brande (SP) 36.85

1. Johnson (Blake) 9.825; 2. Walters (B-CC) 9.675; 3. Mitchell (WJ) 9.6; 4. Brande (SP) 9.45; 5. Boross (B-CC) 9.3

1. Williams (Blake) 9.55; 2. Walters (B-CC) 9.425; 3. Johnson (Blake) 9.35; 4. Pelton (B-CC) 9.2; 5. Brande (SP) 9.0

1. Walters (B-CC) 9.5; 2. Mitchell (WJ) 9.425; 3. Alexi Banda (SH) 9.35; 4. Brande (SP) 9.3; 5. Johnson (Blake) 9.3

1. Walters (B-CC) 9.65; 2. Johnson (Blake) 9.625; 3. Williams (Blake) 9.45; 4. Lara Magill (B-CC) 9.3; 5. Kayla Perry (Blake) 9.275