The gym at Park View High School was nearly empty. All of the gymnastics equipment had been put away, all the mats rolled up. Many of the fans that had seen the Patriots host Yorktown, Annandale, South Lakes and Washington-Lee Thursday night were gone. And so were some of the teams themselves.

But not Park View. As the few remaining teams stood off to the side to hear the official results of the meet that had finished minutes earlier, the Patriots huddled right in front of the scorer's table. They knew they had won--they just wanted to be the first to hear it.

"This was a tremendous win for us," said interim coach Carolann Krische, whose team was forced to take zeros in numerous spots in the rotation last year because most of its five gymnasts could not compete in all the events. "I couldn't be more pleased. And it makes it more special since all the other schools are bigger than us [in terms of classification]."

Park View--which returned four gymnasts from last year and added six new ones--dominated the meet, scoring a season-high 128.5 to beat second-place South Lakes (125.9) by nearly three full points. Yorktown finished third with a 116.8, with Washington-Lee fourth (78.8) and Annandale fifth (47.9).

"We didn't have a chance to win last year, not at all," said sophomore Sara Costanza, who won Thursday's all-around competition with a 34.2, improving on Jan. 8's 33.85--a mark that enters her in next month's state qualifying meet. "Gymnastics was still fun, but from an individual standpoint. You knew you could just go out there and whatever happened, happened. You couldn't let the team down."

Krische, 24, became a first-year assistant while attending George Mason University and working as a student-teacher; she took over when Coach Misti Booker went on maternity leave to be with her newborn daughter. The Patriots have responded to Krische and have improved their team score each of the last three weeks.

"Carolann has done a great job. I'm pleased with the way she has handled the program from both a coaching and organizational standpoint," said Park View Athletic Director Les Cummings, also noting that should Booker decide to come back, Booker will resume control of the program.

Though the Patriots still won't contend with district opponents Broad Run or Potomac Falls for the Northwestern title this year, they are far from finished. Three Park View gymnasts have qualified for the postseason: Junior Maggie McCombs on the floor exercise and vault, junior Kaitlyn Butynski on the beam, floor and vault and Costanza in the all-around competition.

"We are a lot closer as a team than we were last year, and Coach Krische has done a good job making us better," Butynski said. "We also know that we aren't going to finish in last place anymore, not like last year when we had no chance to win. I'm really looking forward toward the future."

So is everyone else in the program. The Patriots return all of their starters, losing only senior Anika King.

"We are going to be awesome next year, just awesome," Krische said. "Next year, we're going to be the team to beat."

Team Scoring: 1. Park View, 128.5; 2. South Lakes, 125.9; 3. Yorktown, 116.8; 4. Washington-Lee, 78.8; 5. Annandale, 47.9.

Vault: Sara Costanza, Park View, 8.7; 2. Adrienne Mayo, South Lakes, 8.6; 3. Kaitlyn Butynski, Park View, 8.4; 3. Maggie McCombs, Park View, 8.4; 3. Leeanne Sciolto, South Lakes, 8.4.

Bars: 1. Leeanne Sciolto, South Lakes, 8.6; 2. Michala Miller, Annandale, 8.2; 3. Jennifer Pettiford, South Lakes, 8; 4. Shannon Southard, Yorktown, 7.8; 5. Maggie McCombs, Park View, 7.7.

Beam: 1. Leeanne Sciolto, South Lakes, 8.8; 2. Kaitlyn Butynski, Park View, 8.7; 3. Sara Costanza, Park View, 8.6; 4. Shannon Southard, Yorktown, 8.5; 5. Michala Miller, Annandale, 8.

Floor: 1. Sara Costanza, Park View, 9.3; 2. Michala Miller, 8.8; 3. Maggie McCombs, 8.7; 4. Jennifer Pettiford, 8.5; 4. Shannon Southard, Yorktown, 8.5.

All-Around: 1. Sara Costanza, Park View, 34.2; 2. Michala Miller, Annandale, 32.9; 3. Kaitlyn Butynski, 32.7; 4. Jennifer Pettiford, South Lakes, 32.2; Shannon Southard, Yorktown, 32.1.