From a physical standpoint, here were the gymnasts from Long Beach, looking up at Meghan Maquet as they sat in front of the stacked bleachers in their home gym Monday.
Maquet, a senior captain, was just beginning her routine on beam when she slipped.
A gasp from a spectator signified the rarity of the occurrence. But Maquet’s expression remained unchanged, her demeanor unaltered. With her teammates cheering her on, Maquet continued her performance to the sound of audible reactions from the onlookers — only now, it was oohs and aahs.
She eventually finished with an 8.000, tying teammate Allison Cohen for the team high in the event in Long Beach’s 151.550-147.600 win over Bethpage in Nassau I. Maquet won the all-around with a 32.550.
“I was just proud of myself that I kept going strong,” Maquet said. “I knew for my team, I couldn’t give up.”
It’s the type of response you could expect from Maquet, who her teammates have been looking up to — in a metaphorical sense — for years now.
“She’s been the leader for the last three years,” coach Bill Muirhead said. “She’s a true role model for these girls, and she’s terrific at leading by example. You saw it today. She refocuses in an instant.”
Maquet won vault (8.300), bars (7.400) and floor (8.850) yesterday, but in the eyes of Muirhead, her leadership ability will always be her treasured attribute.
“To have someone like her, it’s the most important thing you can have,” Muirhead said. “It’s like having another coach out there.”
Long Beach junior Dakota Ejnes finished second in the all-around with a 30.950, and Bethpage’s Amanda Ferraro, who won beam with an 8.2000, finished third with a 30.650. Only a seventh-grader at JFK Middle School in Bethpage, Ferraro already has coach Kim Rhatigan raving.
“The energy Amanda brings is incredible,” Rhatigan said. “And she has an incredible work ethic. When you combine those two things as a seventh-grader? Watch out.”
Maquet and Ejnes were armed with a similar work ethic as young up-and-comers, and now, as upperclassmen, their goal is to spread it. In fact, Ejnes has an ambitious New Year’s resolution for her team.
“I think it would be great if we scored toward a 160 one meet this season,” Ejnes said. “I think we’re capable of it if we hit everything and keep working hard in practice.”
She then gave a smile to Maquet and said: “We definitely have the leadership to get there.”