The talent that has arrived for Howard High's gymnastics program has been anxiously awaited.
Two high-scoring freshmen -- Pam Bradley and Kim MacNemar -- started competing for the Lions this season, providing a strong base for the school's future in Howard County gymnastics.
"I couldn't wait until gymnastics season started," said Leslie Hinds, Howard's fifth-year coach.
Hinds first became impressed by Bradley three years ago after seeing her in club competition. She never saw MacNemar compete, but heard about her promising exploits through the gymnastics grapevine.
"They are the two best freshmen that I've seen come into a program [at the same time], no doubt about it," Hinds said.
"It's going to be between those two soon to be the top all-arounders in the county."
In Howard's first outing -- a tri- In Howard's first outing -- a tri-meet victory over Mount Hebron and Hammond -- Bradley placed second in all-around (33.1). She tallied impressive scores on balance beam (9.0, first), vault (7.9, second), uneven bars (7.5, second) and floor exercise (8.7, third).
In a quad meet, the duo helped the Lions finish second to four-time defending county champ Atholton, 128.1-121.2. In the process, they set a school record for points, challenging the Raiders more than any team in a long time.
Bradley again was the No. 2 all-arounder (34.1) and first on floor (9.0), while MacNemar placed first on bars (8.9) and tied for second on floor (8.9).
"We scared them," said Hinds of Atholton, two-time state champs.
"In the past, they've been so far ahead of other teams," she said. "This was the first time they had to worry about anyone else."
Bradley and MacNemar, both high-level club gymnasts, have nine years of competitive experience between them.
They possess different styles and qualities, which help them stand out.
Slender and graceful, Bradley is elegant in competition, and her strongest events are floor and beam.
On floor, she likes the "whip back through to layout," and on beam, it's two straight back handsprings.
Strong and muscular, MacNemar excels with a myriad of difficult tricks, including double fulls on the floor and the "Comaneci," a tangled dismount on bars named after 1976 Olympic gold medalist Nadia Comaneci.
"When the music's on and it's her turn to perform, [Pam] comes alive. She performs when the pressure's on and seems unshaken," assistant coach Sue Emerick said.
"Kim has the potential to perform the most difficult skills in the county."
L The teammates, both 5 feet 3 and petite, traded compliments.
"I have a little more grace, but she has a lot more tricks and she's more powerful," Bradley said.
MacNemar said, "She really is graceful and elegant in everything she does, which is her strong point."
L Two years ago, another Bradley, Terri, won the county title.
Now, her sister is tracing those footsteps.
"[Pam] reminds me a lot of Terri in her mannerisms, the way she performs," Hinds said. "You could always count on Terri to hit her routine. Even if she did something wrong in the routine, you couldn't tell. Pam's the same way."
Bradley and MacNemar are a small part of the youth movement that's taken over the Lions. Six of their nine gymnasts are freshmen and there's only one senior.
With freshmen Bradley, MacNemar, Tara McNeeley and Nicole Schimpf, junior Gwen Harrison and senior Susan Watson, Howard should contend seriously for the county crown.
"Because most of our team is freshmen, it give us a chance to do well in the future," MacNemar said. "It takes three top scorers and that's what other teams have right now, but they'll be losing them."