MANASSAS — Sally May is supposed to be taking it easy right now. She’s still recovering from a back injury.
It might be a while, possibly January, perhaps even next season, before May competes in a high school all-around competition That’s just fine with her Osbourn Park teammates.
They’re perfectly content with having their talented sophomore for two events.
“It’s always nice to have someone new. Plus, she’s a wonderful influence,” Osbourn Park senior Kelly Stevison said after watching May in action for the first time Thursday night.
May’s influence was limited to uneven bars and balance beam in OP’s 139.0-131.6 dual -meet victory over Gar-Field, but the Level 10 club gymnast gave a clear indication of what she’s capable of when she’s completely healthy again. In her first varsity competition, May delivered an eye-popping routine on the uneven bars — mixing in a cast handstand, a half pirouette, a straddle back into a handstand and a soaring double back tuck dismount.
All those elements added up to a first-place score of 9.6 — a mark that delighted May and the Yellow Jackets.
“I didn’t know it would be that high,” she said. “Bars is my favorite event right now. I’m focusing more on that. I was just excited to compete and help the team out.”
May also helped out on beam, scoring an 8.7 to finish fourth. That, combined with Stevison’s typically brilliant all-around performance and some daring new skills from Beth Ploger and Ashley Keller enabled Osbourn Park to surpass the 138-point mark for the second straight week.
“It was just exciting. For us, it’s definitely team first,” said Stevison, who scored a 37.1 to win the all-around. “It’s very much a team sport. Everyone gets all jazzed up.”
The Yellow Jackets weren’t all that jazzed early on. With the exception of Stevison, they struggled mightily on their opening event — balance beam — and were behind by nearly two full points halfway through the competition.
That had as much to do with Gar-Field’s performance as it did Osbourn Park’s. The Indians made tremendous strides from last week’s 124.7 showing and were still in contention Thursday until the final event. It certainly helped having Megan Sullivan back in the all-around. She was interviewing for a possible appointment to the Naval Academy last week, but put together a wonderful performance last night — finishing tied for third in the all-around with a 33.7.
Teammate Tracy Cloninger took second place with a 36.1. Ashley Lienau and Han Vo each had their moments as well — tying for third on the floor exercise. But it was Trevor Stanley’s first tuck Tsukahara vault that had all the Indians talking afterwards.
The vault was the highlight of the night for several gymnasts. While May dominated on the uneven bars and Cloninger shared top honors on the balance beam, the vault was a showcase event for Stanley, Stevison and Keller.
Stevison threw a pike Tsukahara and her increasingly graceful Phelps to win the competition with a 9.5. Keller, who promised to come up with something new for this week’s meet, delivered the first tuck Tsuk of her career — scoring an 8.5.
“On one of the snow days I went to Featherstone [Gymnastics Center] and decided to try something new,” Keller said.
A week later, she threw it into a meet.
Ploger, who shared third place in the all-around with a 33.7, also showed off a dazzling new floor routine that was rich enough in comedic value to make the Three Stooges and Lucille Ball proud. She tied for second on vault, third on the uneven bars and scored a season-best 8.2 on floor. Keller scored a 32.0 and Devon Alston a 31.3 for the Yellow Jackets, who tallied a 36.1 on the uneven bars to take the lead by two-tenths of a point and then pulled away with a 35.8 on vault.
“We got off to kind of a rough start,” said Stevison, who landed a punch front mount and a front tuck aerial on the balance beam to tie Cloninger for first place with a 9.6. “After those first two events we didn’t think it would be so good, but we knew the last two events are our strongest and we pulled it out.”