Salem’s Jazmine Belmar got the home crowd cheering early when she she was up on the balance beam. The routine would give her Sundevil squad an early lead.
Bayside, First Colonial, and Princess Anne would keep pace – each team sent six gymnasts on each apparatus, in hopes of finding that score that would vault them to the top.
But it was Kellam’s Alli Lepowski’s vault that would seal the deal for the Knights.
Newcomer Emily Ware would be crowned all-around champion as she finished first in all four events – and Senior Maddie Smith would finish the night third in the all-around, thanks to her strong perfomance on the bars and floor.
The Knights are favored to repeat as state champions – anything short of bringing the trophy back home to the new Kellam High School would be a disappointment.
One athlete who was not a disappointment was Cox Junior, Bailee Adams. She had a look of determination on her face from the start – here on the uneven bars, she would post an 8.825 – then she moved to floor – and when her music suddenly stopped playing, the junior kept going – as the crowd in unison provided the beat for her.
But the moment of the night for her came on the beam – this performance gave her a score of 9.4 – a career best, and a smile that would last the night.
The Cox Falcons would win their conference behind the performances of Jill Holwick and Meredith Fiskus – but they know they have a long way to go to bring it back to the beach.
The conference finals will be held Saturday at 11 a.m. at Bayside High School.