Oakland Mills gymnastics coach Bonnie Taylor hopes her team never experiences another bizarre afternoon like yesterday.
The fact that the Scorpions are expected to challenge for a county title this season but lost to four-time defending county champion Atholton by a substantial 128.1-113.5 margin didn't upset Taylor too much.
After all, it was just the season's first meet. The way her team lost was disconcerting, however. It just wasn't her team's day.
One of visiting Oakland Mills' top three gymnasts, April Page, sprained her ankle during warm-ups and couldn't compete.
Then, during a routine by the Scorpions' Jennie Saffle, the uneven parallel bars collapsed and only Saffle's quickness saved her from a serious injury.
"I was on the low bar at the time and heard the chain [that secured the apparatus to the ground] pop and I just ran for my life," Saffle said.
Oakland Mills' luck was no better when the venue switched to floor exercises. Saffle was again the victim, as the portable tape player wouldn't work for about seven minutes, allowing her to cool down and tense up.
The Scorpions' Becca VanAmburg had no better luck with the tape player. She had to begin her floor exercise without music because the beginning of her tape was somehow erased.
And it didn't help Oakland Mills' spirits that its top gymnast, Lori Jackson, wasn't able to compete because of a foot injury.
"It was the meet from hell," Taylor said.
On the flip side, winning coach Terry Smith couldn't have been happier with her team's meet. The two-time defending state champions served notice to critics yesterday that they are talented enough to win another county title.
"Everyone did better than I expected. I thought we'd score in the mid-120s and we scored higher than that," Smith said.
Atholton was led by the Mennell twins, Shannon and Heather, who finished one-two in the all-around competition, and by Michelle Benson, who finished fourth all-around. Shannon scored to Heather's 34.6. Oakland Mills' Kelley Callaway finished third in all-around at 34.2, and Benson scored 32.3.
Shannon won the vault (8.8), beam (9.0) and floor exercise (8.9) and was second on bars (8.6). Heather won the bars (8.7) while finishing second in the vault (8.6) and floor exercise (8.8) and third on the balance beam (8.5).
The entire Atholton floor exercise team displayed a flair for choreography thanks to Atholton assistant coach Jennie Young, senior dance major at Towson State University.
Oakland Mills still expects to be one of the teams that will give the Raiders a challenge for the county championship this season. And the meet was not a total loss for the Scorpions.
VanAmburg hit every trick on the balance beam and scored 8.3, her highest ever, and Kim Fiske scored 7.5 on the balance beam, her personal best. Kelly Granger scored 7.5 on the vault in her first competition.
And Callaway was the shining star for Oakland Mills by finishing third in the all-around. She finished third in the vault (8.4), bars (8.4) and floor exercise (8.8) and second in balance beam (8.6).
"We thought this was going to be an important meet, but it didn't really turn out to be because Oakland Mills came without all of its top gymnasts," Smith said.