Kristina Arcury was struggling.
The Williamsville South freshman jammed her back on her first vault attempt, a front handspring front tuck maneuver that she landed straight legged. But while Arcury sat on the mat writhing in pain, thoughts of not getting back up to attempt her final vault never entered her mind. There was too much at stake for the diminutive gymnast not to continue. It was her final event, and a good score not only could help her Billies teammates secure a top-three finish at the Section VI girls gymnastics championships but also could yield the all-around championship.
After Arcury regained her bearings, she attempted the same vault and nailed the landing stiff -- scoring a 9.3 to clinch the all-around crown with 37.150 points and help Williamsville South place second with 107.8 points Saturday before an estimated 200 fans at Kenmore West High School. Arcury nipped Lewiston-Porter's Deanna Favero by .35 points for the title. Hamburg's Danielle Hover finished third with 36.75 points.
"It's sort of like hyperextending your knees because I landed straight legged," said Arcury, describing the injury. "It was pretty painful. It just hurt, but I tried to relax just so I could do the next vault. I'm really happy. I'm pretty excited (to be going to states). I just tried my best."
"She was in some pain, but we knew that if she didn't do the second one and come back and do it well, she may not win the all-around or help us try to place as a team," South coach Kurt Stumpf said. "I asked her if she wanted to do it, and she said, 'Yes.' "
A deep Lancaster crew broke another record, setting the sectional meet mark with 108.025 points to shatter the previous three-score mark of 106.8 set by the Kenmore East/West combined team in 1999. The Redskins set the five-score sectional record last month (175.15).
"The team worked very hard," Lancaster coach Donna Aquino said. "They came into this meet with a lot of confidence, and they hit it."
Arcury, who placed third in the all-around last year, didn't know where she stood at any point in the meet. She trailed Favero through two events by three-tenths of a point but surged ahead by .05 after a solid floor exercise that featured an audible from her coach. Stumpf added a layout pike to the routine that featured some nice tumbles and artistic elements. That proved to be a key strategic move because Arcury won the title with consistent routines that were relatively mistake free. Arcury's four-event scores ranged from 9.2 to 9.45, the highest coming in the balance beam -- the same event in which she slipped and fell during last year's meet.
"There's a lot of pressure in a meet like this because there are a lot of good kids," Stumpf said. "To go out there and really have no mistakes and walk through the meet and be as perfect as possible, that's very difficult, and she did very, very well."
Joining Arcury, Favero and Hover on the Section VI team that will compete in the state meet at Long Island's Ward Melville High School on March 5 are Kenmore West's Natalie Kirisits (vault and beam), Kenmore East's Sarah Nardrowski (vault and floor), Lancaster's Christine DelPrince (vault, bars, beam and floor) and Meghan Errico (floor and bars), and Williamsville South's Danielle Dee (beam) and Jenna Hasan (bars).
Kirisits' 9.6 winning mark in the balance beam tied the section record set by DelPrince in October.