Port Washington's Stefanie Carta was surprised at first, but after thinking about her performance, it started to make sense.
"Really? Wow!" Carta said when informed that she was leading the all-around competition after the first session of the Nassau gymnastics team championships, held Friday at McKenna Elementary School in Massapequa.
Carta turned in a masterful night, scoring top marks on the bars (8.4), beam (9.25), and vault (9.45) en route to a 36.05 total. Massapequa’s Lindsay Dooling is second in the all-around (31.775), entering Saturday’s second session, which features the top four seeds in the county.
Carta’s vault score matched her personal best, she said.
"I just did it a lot better than I ever have before," Carta said. "First of all, my teammates were literally screaming for me, so that gave me more of a drive. Then, when I landed, I actually stood up this time instead of falling."
Not only is vault Carta’s best event, it also is her favorite.
Sticking the landing was a common theme for Carta, who was nearly flawless on the beam.
"I stuck everything," she said. "I was really clean."
On the bars, it was more of the same.
"I stuck my landing on my dismount," Carta said. "Everything was really controlled and well executed."
Despite being initially surprised at her standing in the all-around, Carta said she was her usual confident self entering one of the biggest meets of the season.
"I like to have a strong mind going in because I know that I’ll crack under pressure, so I like to keep my mind going and think of all positive things," Carta said. "My teammates helped me, too. They helped me get my best score. Cheering me on gets me hyped up."
The bottom four seeds — Port Washington, South Side, Massapequa, and Bethpage — competed Friday. South Side leads the competition after the first session, posting a 159.425. Massapequa is second with a 155.575. South Side’s Payton Waller is the leader on floor entering Saturday morning after scoring a 9.15.
"What’s really important is consistency, and I try to just do my thing every time," Waller said. "I was really happy with my second tumbling pass. I did a roundoff back handspring layout full. Sometimes it does get a little nerve-wracking to do it in gyms other than my home gym at South Side, so when I can pull that off pretty well, I get really happy."
The four top seeds — Syosset, Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK, Long Beach, and Oceanside — compete Saturday morning.