Bethpage's Sarah Ciresi returns to state gymnastics tournament

Sarah Ciresi of Bethpage performs her routine on Sarah Ciresi of Bethpage performs her routine on the balance beam during the Nassau gymnastics individual championship and state qualifier at Hicksville High School on Feb. 4, 2014. Photo Credit: Newsday / James Escher

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Although Bethpage's Sarah Ciresi is no stranger to the New York State gymnastics tournament, the top spot on the podium was uncharted territory. Until now.

Ciresi won the all-around at the Nassau state qualifier at Hicksville yesterday, winning her first individual county championship and qualifying for the state tournament for the fourth time.

"It's so amazing because I'm a senior this year," Ciresi said. "I really wanted to be a part of the all-around . . . I didn't expect to get first. That makes it that much more amazing."

Ciresi finished third in the all-around as a freshman but Tuesday marked her first return to the top three in the county.

She finished with an overall score of 36.925 and finished first in the bars with a 9.45 and second on the beam with a 9.05.

"Sarah Ciresi has the drive to win," said Bethpage coach Kim Rhatigan, who has coached Ciresi since she was in eighth grade. "She is such a determined gymnast."

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Ciresi is Rhatigan's first county champion from Bethpage since the team split from Plainview in 2008.

Making Ciresi's performance even more impressive was that she was nursing a sore ankle that she sprained last month.

"It was painful," Ciresi said, but added "it didn't interfere with anything." She said "all the adrenaline" and the fact that "it's my senior year and I really wanted to do it" helped her persevere.

Teammate Alyssa Firth will join Ciresi at the state tournament at SUNY Brockport. The Bethpage freshman finished second in the all-around with a 36.75 score and won the floor exercise with a 9.45 and the vault with a 9.675. Firth's score in vault was the highest single score of the night.

"I'm excited," said Firth, who will be making her second straight appearance at the state tournament.

Firth earned her high mark on vault by performing a Yurchenko layout, a difficult vault that involves a handspring off the springboard. As for floor, Firth said, "Floor is my favorite event. You just go out there and have fun."

Plainview eighth-grader Miranda Lund took third in the all-around with a score of 35.725. Lund won the beam with a 9.3 and came in second on the floor with a 9.4.

Plainview's Jessica Lopez and Ashley Bellino, Sewanhaka's Stephanie Jennings, Daniella Limpert and Corinne Alleyne, Carle Place's Katie Caramanica and Wantagh's Julie Giardina round out the state qualifiers.

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