Top-ranked women gymnasts from the eastern United States will begin competing today at Montgomery College for the Capital Cup, the first major event of the new season.

Preliminary rounds in the invitational tournament will be held all day today, with the finals beginning at 2:30 p.m. Sunday.

"Being so early in the season, this meet provides an opportunity for trying out new routines before the national championships in January," said Gary Anderson, coach of the host Marvateens club. "How the judges react will help the girls decide which moves to keep for the rest of the year."

Whatever her routines, Amy Appler of Reading, Pa. is likely to score highly, even though this will be her first tournament since she injured an ankle last August. She was a member of the U.S. team that won the Canadian Classic International last year and she won three individual gold medals.

Appler will face a strong challenge from U.S. teammate Tracy Hinkel of Allentown, Pa., who won silver medals in Canada on the balance beam and uneven parallel bars. Hinkel placed first last week in the zone tournament that determined who will compete in the national championships.

Another of today's competitors, Cheryl Kaneshiro of Rockville, was second in the zone meet. She is ranked 22nd nationally in the junior elite class and is considered one of the nation's best on the uneven bars.