Bethpage gymnast Alyssa Firth performs her floor exercise during the...

Bethpage gymnast Alyssa Firth performs her floor exercise during the New York State Girls Gymnastics Championship at Smithtown East. (March 2, 2013) Credit: Daniel De Mato


(A coherent lede, that was not.)

You'll have to excuse the writing, because Thursday night's rival match pitting defending champion Bethpage against always-almost-champion Plainview was a stunner.

We're talking .05 point differential. We're talking it coming down to a freshman and an injured captain, and we're also talking about the girls who are going to be right up there come time for the state qualifier.

To recap: Bethpage defeated Plainview 166.7 to 166.2 behind the oh so clutch Alyssa Firth, and the oh so Kerri Strug-ish Sarah Ciresi. 

Thursday, Firth took first in the all around with a 35.5, including a 9.35 on her first place floor routine. Meanwhile, Ciresi, whom coach Kim Rhatigan was going to sit out with a sprained ankle, stepped up hard, winning bars (9.15) and beam (9.3) all the way to a beast mode 35.4 second place finish in the all around.

For those of you with an ear to the high school gymnastics world (because I know all of you are), last year, Firth did her thing in relatively quiet fashion while Lexi Fraher and Ciresi became the more out-there leaders. Firth then proceeded to go to the state qualifier and qualify for three events, because...clutch.

"It was a nail biter," coach Rhatigan said via text, because I wasn't going to call her at 10 p.m. for a blog quote. Sarah "really  came through like a champ. She is incredible."

Plainview's Miranda Lund took third with a 35.00, while Jessica Lopez, who qualified for the state all around as a seventh-grader last year, was fourth with a 34.45.

Per Rhatigan, Ciresi, Firth, Fraher and Rachel Chao all did Yurchenko and Tsuk vaults, "and that really set the momentum for our team. They were really pumped. Once Firth flipped in the warmups, the rest followed."

Because of the new conference allignment, this is the first of two times that Bethpage will meet their rivals (the two teams also share a gym).

"Win or lose, our focus was on the county championship," she said. "So to grab a win tonight with Ciresi's sprained ankle was a very exciting win."

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