Jordan Ceccarini's drive is the equal of her talent.
For every perfectly-executed salto, there are tireless hours spent at the gym. For every back handspring-back handspring connection, there are 10 in practice that didn't end quite as successfully.
A 10th-grader at Miller Place High School, she competes at the varsity level even though her school doesn't have a team.
She has her own website. She's in her second year competing as a Level 10. She's already looking at colleges.
"I'm really focused on my future," she said. A lot of her extra achievements "look good with the college application . . . And I want to compete in college because it will keep me focused with time management like it does now, and I think it'll be fun to meet people on the team."
Not that her application needs much padding. She took third place in bars and beam in the state tournament, and earned a 36.625 in the Suffolk all-around, second only to Ward Melville's Cydney Crasa. Ceccarini bettered that all-around score in the state tournament, with a 37.450, good for first place.
And high school accomplishments make up only a fraction of Ceccarini's resume. This year, she took first all-around in her division in the Hudson Valley Winter Classic and took ninth in the Regionals in her first year competing as a Level 10.
Last season, she still was getting her bearings in her new skill level, but this year, said her mother, Dawn Ceccarini, her daughter plans to expand her repertoire. Though many Level 10 skills are unnecessary in high school competition, Jordan will continue to use them at her gym, Farmingdale Gymnastics Academy, and during her travel schedule.
Recently, Jordan has been working on adding a tkatchev to her bar routine. The move starts off with a giant -- that is, a full swinging rotation around the bar -- and then requires her to release at the height of the turn, manipulating her body in a sitting position mid-air, and then grabbing back onto the bar.
"It was terrifying for both of us," said Dawn, laughing. "They start off with like a harness that looks like what little children use when they go on a swing, and she's attached to the cable the whole time. They do that for a while and then gradually take the harness off."
For someone as driven as Jordan, flying without a harness seems just right.Patriots build a dynasty
Ward Melville is going for its fourth straight county title and its fifth straight league title behind Crasa, who won the county all-around title last year and tied for first in beam in the state tournament. Crasa is bolstered by Katie Bowe and Claire Dempsey to make up the strongest team in the league. Carley DiMartino will lead a competitive Sachem team. Bay Shore will not be fielding a team this season, but will have strong independent gymnasts in Hayden Davidson, Skye Harper and Kameron Christie.
ATHLETES TO WATCH
Cydney Crasa, Ward Melville, Jr.
Katie Bowe, Ward Melville, eighth grade
Hayden Davidson, Bay Shore, Soph.
Jordan Ceccarini, Miller Place, Soph.
Carley DiMartino, Sachem, Sr.