Announcements and Important Events
Written by: DAVE FACINOLI, Sun Gazette Newspapers (
What initially was anticipated to be a mediocre building season for the Washington-Lee Generals has become so much more.
With a season-high team score of 143.125, the Generals won the 6D North Region girls gymnastics championships Feb. 7 on their home floor. The Madison Warhawks were second at 137.9 in the high-school event.
A week earlier at W-L, the Generals won the Liberty District title with a 139.275 total.
Washington-Lee graduated nine seniors from last season’s team. So when practice for the 2018-19 campaign began back in November and many freshmen on the team, longtime W-L head coach Joe D’Emidio naturally expected this winter to be a down year. The Generals did not win their first few meets.
What happened, was many of the freshmen had significant talent and improved faster than expected to help W-L win its fourth region crown under D’Emidio, and first since 2014.
“Into the gym walked all of these freshmen that first day of practice,” D’Emidio said. “They really took to high-school gymnastics and quickly improved. They had a lot of potential, are calm and they want to win as a team. That’s the biggest thing. It was a team effort. Now they expect to win, and they go after it.”
Leading W-L at the region meet was second-place all-around finisher Grace Chen (36.625), a freshman, and sophomore Desta Sahle in sixth (35.975).
Chen won the vault (9.6), was fourth on the uneven bars (8.975), her floor exercise routine (9.15) was eighth best, and she tied for ninth on the balance beam (8.9).
Sahle was fifth on the floor (9.225), seventh on the bars (8.9), tied for ninth on the beam (8.9) and was 10th on the vault (8.95).
In addition, W-L freshman Sophia Bailey placed second in the vault (9.375) and seventh on the beam (9.175), freshman Annie Marchese tied for 13th on the bars (8.575) and freshman Devin Nemirow tied for 11th on the beam (8.85).
Ella Wyman, Bella Golden and Sofia Koppy also led the Generals.
“We were in our own gym, on our own equipment and on our own floor. That’s an advantage for us,” D’Emidio said.
D’Emidio thought one of the key routines en route to the victory was having no gymnasts fall off the beam, led off on the event by Marchese.
“ If the first girl stays on the beam, that makes all the difference and sets the tone and confidence for the rest,” D’Emidio said. “After our beam routine, I knew we were in good shape.”
The Generals ended the meet with a strong floor-exercise performance, having three gymnasts score in the nines.
“That was our best performance on the floor this year,” longtime W-L assistant coach Ron Melkis said. “A good way to finish.”
Hays had top-three finishes on all four events. She won the floor (9.675), tied for first on the beam (9.65), was second on the bars (9.2) and tied for third on the vault (9.3).
Hays and the Washington-Lee team advance to the Virginia High School League’s Class 6 state championships Feb. 15 and 16 at Salem High School in Virginia Beach.