Team photo of Region gymnastics champs

The Washington-Liberty Generals gather for a team photo after winning their third straight region girls gymnastics championships. Next is the state meet. (From Washington-Liberty)

Three in a row and still undefeated.

That’s what the Washington-Liberty Generals accomplished the night of Feb. 4, when the girls high-school gymnastics team won its third straight 6D North Region championship. With the title, won inside the W-L gym, the Generals have finished first in all seven of their competitions this season.

Washington-Liberty won the region with a season-high team score of 143.025. The Oakton Cougars were second with 138.225. Overall, the region crown was W-L’s sixth in school history, all coming in the last 11 years.

“It’s always nice to hold that region banner,” W-L coach Joe D’Emidio said. “Our gymnasts really enjoy the sport at W-L. We have a great set-up here and have great support. We are tickled pink to have three straight region titles in a row.”

Washington-Liberty was led in the region meet by junior Grace Chen’s second in the all-around with a 36.575 score. Oakton freshman Delaney Nelson won with a 36.825 total.

Chen won three events, the vault (9.575), the uneven bars (9.35) and the floor exercise (9.5). She fell twice on her balance beam, scoring an 8.15.

“Grace is such a competitor,” D’Emidio said. “After her beam routine, she did not let that bother her. Her next event was the floor, and she goes and wins that.”

Chen also was second in the all-around last season.

Washington-Liberty senior Desta Sahle had a strong meet with a 9.375 on the floor, a 9.35 on the beam and a 9.15 on the vault.

Other W-L gymnasts who scored well in the meet were Ava Drewer, Devin Nemirow, Annie Marchese, Mara Gerardi, Alana Johnson and Sophia Bailey.

Drewer scored a 9.3 on the vault. Nemirow had an 8.325 on the beam and an 8.35 on the floor. Marchese scored a 9.05 on the vault, 8.65 on the floor and 8.525 on the beam.

Gerardi had an 8.325 on the beam and an 8.175 on the bars. Johnson scored a 9.1 on the vault and Bailey a 9.35 on the vault and an 8.9 on the floor.

The vault was the Generals’ first of four events.

“They all hit their vaults and scored in the nines,” D’Emidio said. “I knew after that we already had the meet wrapped up, then we did well on our next event, the bars and shined on the floor at the end.”

When practice first began a few weeks ago, D’Emidio believed the Generals possessed the talent and potential to win a third straight region title. He said the key was improving every week, and the Generals have done so.

When their best lineup was on the floor, W-L’s team score improved each week.

“I always tell our team not to worry how the other teams do. Think about our score and what we can do to improve,” D’Emidio said. “And they keep doing that, which means they really care most about the team.”

Next for the Generals is the Virginia High School League’s Class 6 state meet Feb.. 12 at Kellam High School in Virginia Beach, if they are allowed to attend. Washington-Liberty has never won a state gymnastics meet, finishing second twice.

“If we clean up some things and falls, we can be a contender,” D’Emidio said.

Right now, the Arlington school system has made a preliminary decision not to allow the W-L team to attend the state meet because of the pandemic. Parents of the W-L gymnasts are asking the school system to allow the Generals to participate.

The parents point out if the W-L gymnasts aren't allowed to attend the state competition, will other Arlington teams and atheltes from other sports also not be permitted to attend the state, like swimmers and divers and track and field athletes, maybe even basketball teams.

Also at the region meet, the Wakefield Warriors placed sixth with a 133.2 team score.

The Warriors were led by Sophie Gamboa’s third in the all-around with a 36.35 score. She scored a 9.5 on the vault, had 8.975 scores on both the bars and beam, and an 8.9 on the floor.

Wakefield’s Gabrielle Watts was sixth in the all-around (34.575). She had a 9.25 on the floor, an 8.85 on the beam, an 8.225 on the vault and an 8.25 on the bars.

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