By the end, both were in tears.
Aly Raisman hugged her coach, having just completed a floor exercise that netted a team-leading score and essentially locked up the United States' spot atop Sunday's qualifying. There were also hugs from teammates that left their cheeks damp from Raisman's joy.
The electric performance announced the 18-year-old as a contender for all- around gold.
It came at the cost of teammate and best friend Jordyn Wieber.
One of the favorites to win gold in the all-around, Wieber was undone by a near flawless performance by Team USA at the qualifiers. Her minor stumbles on the balance beam hurt and her step out of bounds on the floor exercise was her doom.
That left her in tears.
"It is a bit of a disappointment. It has always been a dream of mine to compete in the all-around final of the Olympics, but I'm proud of Aly and Gabby (Douglas) and happy that they reached the all-around and that I was able to help the team get to the finals," said Wieber.
"I think from the beginning we were all looking very strong. It was always going to be close between the three of us doing all-around and in the end it is what it is."
When Wieber exited the gym on Sunday, with a handful of countries still set to go, she had posted the third-best all-around score. The problem for her is that she sat behind Raisman and Douglas, and a country can send only two gymnasts to a final.
Wieber, the reigning all-around world champion, was out.
"I feel really bad knowing how much she wanted it," Raisman said of knocking out Wieber, "but really happy I made it. The first thing I said to her was that I felt really bad for her. I had no idea that I was in the position to outscore her, I was completely focusing on my exercises and not on the scores."
The rest of the world had been focusing on Wieber and Douglas. The two have pushed each other to the top, helping turn the other into one of the world's best. Raisman was content to sit in the shadows and just be a part of team, but that could all change at Thursday's all-around competition.
Raisman's performance may have shocked many at the North Greenwich Arena, but not team coordinator Martha Karolyi.
"I've always said that Alexandra Raisman is (one of) the most hard working and dedicated gymnasts, and it finally pays off now," she said.
So you can understand the tears from Raisman.
It's easy to get Wieber's expression as well. Nobody will think she was disappointed in the outcome -- her team is in the driver's seat for gold on Tuesday -- only in herself. She shouldn't be, but how else does a 17-year-old react to four years of intense work bearing no fruit?
"She has trained her entire life for this day and to have it turn out anything less than she deserves is going to be devastating," said Wieber's coach, John Geddert. "She has waited her entire career for this. She is happy for her teammates and disappointed that she doesn't get (to) move on."
There is little Wieber can do now. Perhaps she will wake up on Monday and remember she still has a chance to win Olympic gold with her team, an opportunity that very few people ever get.
"We have to be able to turn the page and go on with the next chapter; the team final. This is what happens when you have so many high level gymnasts on one team," noted Karolyi.
Welcome to the Olympics, where dreams can often be made -- or reduced to tears.