Marni Rager was home in Silver Spring, Md., when the phone rang Tuesday morning. It was a National Sports Festival official, saying Vikki Miller had chicken pox and there was a vacancy on the West gymnastics team.

"I left Tuesday afternoon," Rager said. "I was supposed to be going on vacation to Nantucket, and I miss the beach, but you don't pass up a chance like this. I'm still going there, but it will only be for one day."

Rager, 13, created the first big moment of excitement for the 7,000 fans who packed the Air Force Academy Fieldhouse Friday night. The second competitor on the uneven bars, she performed a Korbut with such expertise that she received generous applause and a score of 9.5, third-best among the field of 23 gymnasts.

That qualified her for Sunday's individual event final on the bars and made her feel even better about not being able to spend more time on the beach, and all the hours she spends practicing with Gary Anderson's Marvateens in Rockville, Md.

"I work out five hours every day, five days a week," Rager said. "During the school year, I have five classes at Banneker Junior High and get out about 1:20. I go right to the gym, about a 25- or 30-minute ride, and I stay there till 8 or 8:30.

"Sometimes my body (4 feet 10, 78 pounds) is so tired from injuries, I have to rest for a day. But I don't miss often. I like to go in there and practice. I spend about equal time on all the exercises and I don't have any that's better than the rest, although the bars certainly were best tonight."

This is Rager's fifth year of competition and she already has enjoyed some moments of glory, winning the all-around in the Capitol Cup, which is hosted by the Marvateens, and finishing fifth in the Hapoel Games in Jerusalem.

Jinny Rhee, 16, also lives in Silver Spring and she, too is competing in the Sports Festival. There was no last-minute summons for Rhee, however. She performed in the 1982 Festival, placing 19th in the all-around, and was invited back despite a 37th-place finish in the recent U.S. Championships.

The fans and officials quickly learned Rhee's capabilities, as she began with a 9.45 on the vault, did not have a score below 9.0 all night and wound up third in the all-around with 37.05, defeating many of the women who had finished ahead of her in the nationals.

Rhee qualified for the individual event final in the balance beam and earned a team gold medal when her South squad finished first.

"One of the good things about the Festival is that while superstars always get recognized, sometimes someone like Jinny pops up," said David Neel, the South coach. "Jinny was consistent all across the board. She didn't have a break. I hope this brings her around. She can go a long way."

Rhee began her gymnastics career in the third grade, then dropped the sport for a year when her family moved to Korea. When Rhee returned with her family, she took it up in earnest and now trains five hours a day, six days a week, with Chip Dainis and Bob Ouellette at the Prince George's Gymnastics Club in Beltsville, Md.

"I go there right from school (she will be a junior in the fall at Paint Branch High) and stay there six hours," Rhee said. "I work out five hours and the other hour I do some homework or get something to eat. I get home about 9 or 9:30."

Rhee was a crowd favorite here, as the spectators particularly applauded her efforts during a floor exercise that earned a 9.3.

"It was good to get started on the vault," Rhee said. "It gets you into the meet without starting on a tough exercise like the beam. Normally, when I have to start on the beam, I fall off."

This time Rhee was on the beam, and she made a lot of points toward her goals of a college scholarship and participation on international teams.

"I hope next time they select a team or pick people for an overseas meet, they'll think of me," she said. "I'd like to compete internationally."

That may happen. Phones in Silver Spring have been known to ring with orders to get up and go.

Scott Johnson, the Colorado Springs native who hoped to win eight medals in the National Sports Festival gymnastics competition, was forced to settle for seven tonight. That figure matched the record he set in 1982 at Indianapolis.

Johnson, who led Nebraska to the NCAA championship, wound up with five golds, a silver, a bronze and a fourth-place tie, in pommel horse. Although Johnson suffered a small break in his routine on the horse, his score still seemed likely to earn a bronze until a superb performance by Matt Arnott, the seventh and last contestant, pushed Johnson out of a share of third place.

Johnson won the all-around title Thursday and tonight he won four of six individual exercises--high bar, parallel bars, rings and floor exercise. He was second to Mark Caso of UCLA in the vault. me," she said. "I'd like to compete internationally."

That may happen. Phones in Silver Spring have been known to ring with orders to get up and go.

Scott Johnson, the Colorado Springs native who hoped to win eight medals in the National Sports Festival gymnastics competition, was forced to settle for seven tonight. That figure matched the record he set in 1982 at Indianapolis.

Johnson, who led Nebraska to the NCAA championship, wound up with five golds, a silver, a bronze and a fourth-place tie, in pommel horse. Although Johnson suffered a small break in his routine on the horse, his score still seemed likely to earn a bronze until a superb performance by Matt Arnott, the seventh and last contestant, pushed Johnson out of a share of third place.

Johnson won the all-around title Thursday and tonight he won four of six individual exercises--high bar, parallel bars, rings and floor exercise. He was second to Mark Caso of UCLA in the vault.