With her sprained ankle wrapped tight and one of the biggest matches of the year before her, gymnast Sarah Ciresi propelled herself off a vaulting table onto the floor, careened off the high bar and flipped on (and off) a 10-centimeter beam.

She skipped the saltos on the floor exercise though. Because that was overdoing it.

Despite suffering the injury in her club gym during Christmas break and competing in only one event since -- bars, against Massapequa -- Ciresi, a senior and Bethpage team captain, petitioned her coach to compete in one of the tightest competitions of the season earlier this week, a 166.7-166.5 win over rival Plainview JFK in Conference I.

Ciresi had previously landed her bars routine against Massapequa on one foot. Against Plainview, she earned a 35.4 in the all-around, good for second place behind teammate, freshman Alyssa Firth (35.5, with a 9.35 on floor). Plainview JFK's Miranda Lund came in third with a 35.0.

When Ciresi first got hurt, "it was like, 'oh no, there's the season,' " coach Kim Rhatigan said of her stalwart, who took the all-around in nine out of 10 meets for the team last year. "But she's been getting it taped and set by the doctor . . . I was getting ready to scratch her and she says she's fine . . . I'm ready to do my Tsuk vault. I was like, 'what?!' "

After seeing Firth throw her Yurchenko vault in practice, both Ciresi and Lexi Fraher, who does a front-front, were inspired to do their high-difficulty vaults. Ninth-grader Rachel Chao also performed her Tsuk, "and I haven't seen her do that this year," Rhatigan said.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

"They were all flipping," Rhatigan said. "They got into this competitive mode, with this competitive edge to them."

That went doubly so for Ciresi, "who's been competing so long that she has a high tolerance for what her body can do," Rhatigan said. "She's got this drive in her that I can't even name."