Arundel High School posted the best score in school history and easily won the Anne Arundel County gymnastics meet yesterday at Severna Park.
Arundel totaled 130.15 points, as three of its gymnasts -- freshmen Karen Newhard and Michelle Gagnier, and senior Debbie Chute -- finished among the top seven in the all-around competition.
With the top score in two of the four rotations, the Wildcats defeated Annapolis (122.1), Old Mill (115.95), Broadneck (111.55), Chesapeake (111.05) and defending champion Severna Park (110.8).
"We've had some good ones, but this is by far our strongest performance," said Carol Nutt, who has coached the Wildcats since the inception of county gymnastics in 1975. "This is nice to see in the twilight of your career."
In addition to Newhard, Gagnier and Chute, Nutt cited contributions from sophomores Erin Kupstas, Megan Glaze, Juli Scott, Suzanne McHugh and April Anderson, and senior Danielle Dandreano.
"There were some really good gymnasts in this meet," Nutt said. "But the reason we prevailed as a team is we had more depth. Depth is the key, and the stronger you are in the four, five and six positions, the better chance you have of winning the title."
The all-around title went to Old Mill freshman Holly Firebaugh (36.25), who nipped Newhard (36.05). In fact, Newhard won vault and floor exercise at 8.95 and 9.5, respectively, and there was a 9.0 tie between the two on uneven bars. However, using a new ZTC "double full" dismount, Firebaugh took balance beam handily, 9.25-8.6.
Firebaugh and Newhard were trailed by Annapolis senior Karen Thompson (35.3), Broadneck junior Dawn McAteer (34.75), Annapolis junior Angie Cheatham (34.15), Chute (33.15) and Gagnier (31.75).
The top two teams, two best all-arounders, and the top four gymnasts who competed as specialists qualified for the state meet at Annapolis Wednesday.
With Arundel the favorite to win, Annapolis coach Neil Russell knew it would be a struggle.
"They had three top all-arounders and we only had two," he said, referring to Thompson and Cheatham. "So that made the difference."