MEDINA — Samantha Borrelli’s left ankle is still sore, but her heart and determination are as strong as ever.
The Medina junior fought through the pain Saturday at the Rich Clevidence Invitational, winning the uneven parallel bars and finishing second in the all-around, balance beam and floor exercise.
Borrelli’s bars score of 9.5 and her all-around mark of 35.25 were Medina County season highs and occurred less than five months after she underwent surgery to repair a torn tendon.
“I thought Sam was amazing, especially when you consider that she’s still rehabbing her ankle from a major operation,” Bees coach Darcy Ranallo said. “She’s a perfectionist, so I know she’s not where she would like to be, but we want her to take everything slowly so she can eventually be back to 100 percent.”
Borrelli and Magnificat junior Julia Corrao — both two-time state qualifiers — captivated the crowd at the eight-team event with their day-long battle.
Corrao claimed the all-around (36.9), beam (9.05) and floor exercise (9.4), but finished second to Borrelli on the bars.
The only event that didn’t see the friendly rivals finish 1-2 was the vault, which was won by Magnificat sophomore Jessica Androsik (9.4).
“I like Sam a lot, so it was nice to see her competing today,” Corrao said. “It’s great that she’s been able to come back from her injury, and I hope we can both keep improving as the season goes on.”
So does Borrelli, who earned a 9.05 on the floor and an 8.45 on the beam in just her second post-surgery competition.
The two-time All-Gazette selection was injured while landing a vault during the 2013 postseason, but persevered through the state team and individual meets. When physical therapy proved unsuccessful, she went under the knife in mid-August.
“I always want more from myself, but I finally feel like I’m getting out of the funk that I was in for so long,” said Borrelli, whose final rehab session is scheduled for late February.
“It’s been tough, but it also puts you in a position where you have to rely on your teammates. We’ve got such a great group, and I’m fortunate that they can pick me up.”
Juniors — and fellow two-year letterwinners — Kira Palmer and Natalie Radice also had strong days as the Bees scored a county season-best 131.4 to finish second behind the Blue Streaks (140.65) in the team standings. Brunswick was third at 130.55.
Palmer earned a career-high 8.8 in finishing fourth on the bars while adding sixth-place showings in the all-around (33.85), beam (8.35) and floor (8.7).
“I thought my bars were real nice and it was good to stay on the beam, but I’m definitely not where I want to be,” she said. “I have to clean up the floor and I didn’t do my flip vault today. Once I do that, I’ll feel a lot better about things.”
Radice was eighth in the all-around (32.8), eighth on the bars (8.25) and 10th on the floor (8.55). Those scores were critical in edging the Blue Devils as Medina lost senior state qualifier Gabby Lynskey to a right knee injury after one event.
“When Gabby got hurt, it was a shock because she never stays down,” Radice said. “We feel so bad for her and hope she’ll be OK soon.
“But it did make us realize that we had to pull our own weight for the rest of the meet. I think everyone did a good job coming together on our team.”
Brunswick, meanwhile, received nothing but good news at its most successful meet in two years.
Freshman Camryn Scott led the way by taking third on the beam (8.4), fifth in the all-around (33.9), sixth on the bars (8.6) and eighth on the floor (8.6).
Fellow newcomer Alexx Sikora, a sophomore, was fifth on the floor (8.8) and ninth on the beam (8.15).
Junior Amy Bruce was seventh on the floor (8.7) and ninth in the all-around (32.45) for the Blue Devils, while sophomore Kaylee Shorts was 10th on the vault (8.35) and freshman Elina Burgos placed 11th on the floor (8.55).
Magnificat ended Brecksville’s state-record winning streak at 777 by beating the Bees in a dual meet Thursday. The longtime rivals are considered the two best teams in Ohio this winter.
• Buckeye sophomore Mackenzie Chegan competed as an individual and scored a 27.9 in the all-around. She made her prep debut at the 2013 Clevidence Invitational for Bucks coach Kristin Seeley.
Contact Brian Dulik at email@example.com.