As soon as she landed while competing on vault during the McGee Invitational on Jan. 14, sophomore Leah Carloni of the Thomas Worthington High School gymnastics team knew her path back to the state meet just became more difficult.

As soon as she landed while competing on vault during the McGee Invitational on Jan. 14, sophomore Leah Carloni of the Thomas Worthington High School gymnastics team knew her path back to the state meet just became more difficult.

Carloni, who was first on uneven bars (9.25), third on vault (9.1) and second in the all-around (35.05) in the district honor roll last week, felt a twinge in her left ankle after tying for eighth with an 8.8.

That twinge turned out to be a broken fibula.

Carloni won bars with an 8.9 as the Cardinals placed first (131.425) ahead of Hilliard Bradley (125.7), Hilliard Darby (121.625) and Olentangy Orange (117.45) in a quad meet Jan. 17, but after warming up on the balance beam, her pain persisted and coach Marci Skeen pulled her out of the event.

"I've always had ankle problems, but this time it just felt weird," said Carloni, who broke her growth plate in the same ankle midway through last season but returned for the postseason. "Since I broke my ankle last year, I kind of knew how it felt, so I decided to get it checked out."

Carloni expects to be back for the OCC-Ohio Division meet on Feb. 11 at Dublin Coffman.

"It's just a little bump in the road," she said. "In the meantime, I'm going to the gym every day and conditioning. I need to keep up my endurance and my strength."

Carloni believes she has unfinished business in the state meet, which will be held March 3 at Hilliard Bradley.

Last season at state, she finished 21st in the all-around (34.85) and 34th on vault (8.1). Her all-around score included an 8.95 on bars, a 9.25 on beam and an 8.55 on floor exercise.

Carloni narrowly missed qualifying for state on beam a year ago, as she tied Worthington Kilbourne's Erin Knickerbocker for the eighth and final state-qualifying spot with an 8.525 but lost the tiebreaker.

"I remember sitting there when they came up to me and told that I lost the tiebreaker," she said. "It was tough, but I knew I also made it in the all-around, so I knew I was going to compete in everything."

Carloni ended up going with a new beam routine at state. The move paid off, as it increased her all-around score.

"I thought, 'Well, I can't place anyway,' so I threw in all my harder skills," she said. "I made all of them."

If Carloni had qualified for state on beam, she would've placed third behind Painesville Riverside's Maria Salvia (9.375) and Brecksville-Broadview Heights' Michaela Romito (9.35).

"It was like, 'You have got to be kidding,'" said Skeen, whose team hasn't had anyone place in the top eight at state since 1997 when Maggie Childers was runner-up in the all-around. "I was going, 'She should be standing there had it not been for that tiebreaker.' If she had been .05 of a point higher at the district meet, she would have gone on to make it to state and would have placed on the podium."

Carloni, a level 10 club gymnast who competes with Buckeye Gymnastics, said the finish to last season pushed her to work harder in the offseason.

"It really drives me a lot this year," she said. "It was sad I didn't place (at state), but it really inspired me to do better this year."

•Kilbourne coach Cindy Fushimi isn't sure how much higher her team can score.

A week after finishing third in the McGee Invitational with a 133.435, the Wolves scored a 133.65 in the Kilbourne Invitational on Jan. 21 to place second behind Coffman (134.525).

"As far as looking at the team score, we're kind of stuck," Fushimi said. "I'll see improvement in some places, but we'll slip in other areas. We just need to eliminate some of the mistakes, but we're getting there."

In the Kilbourne Invitational, the Wolves had the highest score on floor with a 35.4, with Erica Rodriguez placing first with a 9.025. Rodriguez also won vault (9.05) and Selena Fushimi-Karns won beam (8.95) and placed second in the all-around (34.2).

In the district honor roll last week, Rodriguez was first on beam (9.1), second on vault (9.125), tied for third on floor (9.2) and third in the all-around (34.9).

"Erica's having a great season," Fushimi said. "It's nice to see a senior finishing her final season on a good note. I am excited for her."