With the flu sidelining its best gymnast, sophomore Sara Costanza, Park View High School had little chance to win the state's oldest invitational meet Saturday. So they performed their routines with an eye on upcoming meets.

Virtually conceding first place at the 29th annual Washington-Lee Invitational in Arlington, three Patriots unveiled new moves in an attempt to raise the level of difficulty in their routines.

"For the most part, I thought we were successful in doing that," said Park View Coach Carolann Krische, whose team placed ninth, out of 12 teams competing, with 92 points. "It was very important for us to add difficulty to our routines to be able to get the scores we need to when we face good teams, especially at our [AA Northwestern] district meet."

"We couldn't dwell on not having Sarah," said junior Kaitlyn Butynski, who scored a team-high 31.95 in the all-around competition. "But I thought we really improved as a team today, because we did some things today that we haven't done before."

Butynski's uneven bars routine was highlighted by a "free hip circle," a new move that requires her to mount the low bar with two hands and do a full circle before springing to the higher bar.

"I had been working on the move on Friday, and it just seemed to come easy to me. I really wasn't worried about it," said Butynski, who scored a 7.35 to combine with Catherine Olson's 7.3 and Maggie McCombs's 7.1 to give Park View a season-high 21.75 on uneven bars.

Meanwhile, on the balance beam, Kristin Miller did a "back walkover"--a move in which she kicked her legs over from a hand-stand position--but Miller fell three times during her routine to receive a 5.15.

McCombs's new maneuver was the most impressive of the three.

The junior performed a difficult "Schushunova" on the balance beam. From a standing position, McCombs jumped with her legs outstretched before turning and catching the beam with her stomach. She earned a score of 7.3 for her routine.

The move was made even more impressive by its risk. During warm-ups Saturday, McCombs said, she was falling nearly every time she tried to do the move.

"Honestly, I didn't expect her to try it, let alone pull it off," said Krische, whose team only had three hours of practice last week because of snow. "But I guess [Maggie] knew she had to get it."

Note: Stafford scored 109.45 points to finish first, its third straight invitational win in as many weeks; the Indians won the Park View Invitational on Jan. 8 and the Winterfest Invitational on Jan. 15.

Last night's scheduled meet--against host West Springfield, Herndon and Madison--was canceled because of this week's snowstorm.

29th Annual Washington-Lee Invitational

Team Scoring: 1. Stafford, 109.45; 2. West Springfield, 103.175; 3. Woodbridge, 102.825; 4. Lee, 102.3; 5. Edison, 100.25; 6. Brooke Point, 100.2; 7. South Lakes, 98.25; 8. Osbourn Park, 93.1; 9. Park View, 92; 10. Jefferson, 87.65; 11. Washington-Lee (A), 74.30; 12. Washington-Lee (B), 48.05.

All-Around: 1. Mary Cantu, West Springfield, 37.075; 2. Ty Stull, Brooke Point, 36.70; 3. Aimee Little, Stafford, 36.60; 4. Angel Dodson, Stafford, 36.10; 5. Emily Smolen, West Springfield, 36.05; 6. Jennifer Whited, Stafford, 35.95.

Floor Exercise: 1. Cantu, 9.25; 2. Little, 9.2; 3. Stull, 9.15; 4. Dodson, 9.05; 5. Lauren Andress, Woodbridge, 9.0; Jesse Wargo, Lee, 9.0; Danielle Giuliano, Edison, 9.0.

Vault: 1. Dodson, 9.45; 2. Cantu, 9.275; 3. Kristine Martin, Woodbridge, 9.225; 4. Giuliano, 9.15; 5. Whited, 9.05; 5. Little, 9.05.

Uneven Bars: 1. Allison Shonerd, Lee, 9.8; 2. Cantu, 9.6; 3. Michelle Pearson, 9.55; 4. Dodson, 9.35; 4. Little, 9.35; 6. Smolen, 9.2.

Balance Beam: 1. Smolen, 9.75; 2. Stull, 9.5; 3. Whited, 9.15; 4. Little, 9.0; 5. Cantu, 8.95; 6. Wargo, 8.9.

CAPTION: Maggie McCombs, shown on the vault, successfully tried a balance beam move she hadn't perfected.

CAPTION: Park View's Kaitlyn Butynski does her floor exercise during Saturday's Washington-Lee Invitational. She led Patriots in the all-around competition.