After Broadneck freshman Joanne Amos finished second in the all-around at the Anne Arundel County gymnastics championships two weeks ago, she made it a point to solidify her uneven bars routine for the Maryland championships five days later.

Not only did Amos's bars routine improve from 8.3 to 8.45, but her all-around score went up by nearly half a point, too. Her four -- event score of 35.425 was the highest among county gymnasts at the competition. Amos placed fifth overall, two points behind champion Decelia Willacy of Springbrook (37.45).

After the county meet, "I felt more pressure from my teammates and the parents," said Amos, who also was the county's highest finisher on balance beam (third place, 9.3) and floor (sixth place, 9.05). "So it encouraged me to do better. I tried a lot harder. My bars routine wasn't as good [at counties], and I worked harder to make it a lot cleaner. I was really nervous about bars."

Amos completed her giants (big, looping swings) and stuck a nice layout flyaway dismount on bars, but her best routine of the meet was on beam, where she landed her back-handspring series and stuck a one-leg back tuck dismount off the side.

"We're aware of where we stand [team-wise] as far as the Montgomery County girls go, and I think because she had to come through as an individual at states, she did it," said first-year Broadneck coach Bernadette Arvidson. "She put it all out there."

Last weekend, at the team's postseason awards barbeque, Amos was given the Bruins MVP award. She was among four high-scoring freshmen (Allie Canfield, Sarah Walsh and Katie Hallberg were the others) who led Broadneck to its second consecutive county team title.

"She's extremely competitive and determined, and takes what she does very seriously," said Arvidson. "Sure, she has a good time at meets, but she challengers herself, and it matters to her what she does each and every time."

A club gymnast at Barlow's in Annapolis since 6, Amos has risen from forward rolls as a child to Level 8, and next year she will compete Level 9. At the Level 8 Maryland championships last month, Amos finished 13th overall and just missed moving on to regionals.

Amos is somewhat of a rarity in the sport. Many girls who have participated in club competition for as many years as Amos have suffered at least one relatively serious injury because of the rigorous training schedule and the pounding the body endures. But Amos has had neither a torn muscle nor a broken bone in nine years. She hurt her knee during practice last summer but did not miss any competition time.

Amos practices four times weekly but has found time to carry a 3.8 GPA this year while taking honors classes in English, biology and government.

"I felt like I was getting behind on my schoolwork [when high school season coincided with club season] because I was going from one practice to another. It's just a lot of work to keep up with," she said. "I try and organize things, but sometimes I procrastinate."

She said she'll probably try for a gymnastics scholarship when she enters college in 2007. "If I'm still not broken, physically and emotionally," she added. "I think if it's too stressful it won't be worth it."