For two years, Bethpage has tried and failed to beat Plainview in the dual-meet season in gymnastics. With only fractions of a point separating the two undefeated teams going into the final event, the Golden Eagles simply had no choice but to go full tilt.
Or full twist, as the case may be.
Eighth-grader Alyssa Firth and freshman Lexi Fraher both added a full twisting layout to their floor routines -- an advanced tumble in which the gymnast twists her body mid-flip to do a full rotation -- to help Bethpage beat its rival, 172.8-172.5, Monday in Conference I. With the win, the Golden Eagles (9-0) are in prime position to win the league title after their final meet. Plainview finished at 9-1.
"It makes me feel like an important part of the team that I could help with this meet," said Firth, who earned a team-high 9.30 on floor. "Bethpage and Plainview are always neck-and-neck, and it's always a tight meet."
Both team scores were season highs for the powerhouses, who pulled out all the stops in this prelude to the team championship on Feb. 9.
Plainview's Jessie Lopez took the all-around with a 35.40 and Bethpage's Sarah Ciresi was second with a 35.35. Seven girls earned scores of 9 or higher in individual events, including Lopez and Victoria Vitale. Their respective 9.50 and 9.40 on beam helped provide the pencil-thin margin.
"I really can't explain the feeling," said Bethpage co-captain Jamie Kaletcher, who earned a team-high 8.85 on beam. "Especially winning by point-three. This was a major goal for us . . . and point-three could be the littlest thing -- a step or a pointed toe."
Said Ciresi: "We just all came together as a team and hopped up our skills a little bit, and then a lot of the girls threw fulls on floor. It was amazing and it got their scores a little bit higher."
Ciresi, who came into the day having won the all-around in all eight of Bethpage's meets, helped set the tone with her bar routine -- a series that included a high to low bar transition and toe-on front dismount. The effort earned her a 9.40. Fraher, who used the same dismount, also tacked on to Bethpage's score with a 9.20.
"We've been trying to do this for a couple years now, and this was the meet you wanted to be on top," Fraher said. "After I got the 9.20, it encouraged me to do my best on both the [remaining] events. I knew I had [my full twist]. Might as well throw it now."