CaroLyne Schmidt found success by virtue of being vertically challenged.
That’s how the Emerald Ridge High School senior ended up in gymnastics – and could be what propels her to a state title this weekend at the Class 4A portion of the Gymnastics State Championships at the Tacoma Dome Exhibition Hall.
When Schmidt was a child, her mom recognized that her lack of height could be an athletic impediment, so she pondered which sports would be a good fit for her daughter. First came a short figure skating stint. Then she tried gymnastics.
It was a perfect fit.
“I fell in love with it,” Schmidt said.
As for her height, “I like to say I’m 5-1,” she said with a laugh. “I’m in that general area.”
It’s all relative to Schmidt, who won the all-around title at last weekend’s West Central District/Greater Spokane District tournament at Mount Rainier High School. Her performance was buoyed by a score of 9.725 points on the vault.
“This season has by far been her most successful,” Emerald Ridge coach Bobbi Jones said. “She has consistency and she just looks really great.”
What sets Schmidt apart from many competitors is that she has gotten better since quitting club gymnastics. She stopped at Level 9 shortly before starting high school.
“She’s beautiful to watch,” Jones said. “She’s a very strong athlete and she has maintained her skills – and even improved upon them the last four years.”
Schmidt placed third in the state all-around competition in 2011 and now hopes to win the vault title – if not more.
“I’m so dedicated to bettering my vault,” she said. “It’s a lot of self-motivation.
“I put in all the hard work at practice because I want to be better for myself and for my team.”
Schmidt occasionally misses club gymnastics, especially “being that athletic, since high-school gymnastics are just a couple months.”
But Schmidt said she is happy that she got to try new activities such as managing the Jaguars’ football team and being in the Medical Explorers club at Good Samaritan Hospital. She also was on the school’s diving team as a sophomore and junior.
“Gymnastics made diving really easy,” she said. “You do the same thing on the floor, but it’s easier to land in water. It hurts less.”
An aspiring nurse, she has a 3.7 grade-point average and hopes to attend Arizona State and would like to dive in college. She worries her body wouldn’t hold up to collegiate gymnastics.
“It feels like I have a new injury every week,” she said. “(Diving) is a little less hard on the body.”
But first comes this weekend, where Emerald Ridge is seeking its first state team title. A victory would be especially sweet for the team’s seven seniors, including 2011 beam champion Elizabeth Clemens, who won that and the floor exercise at districts.
“We’re so excited,” Schmidt said. “We’ve worked so hard for four years to get to this and now we’re going to go all out. I know the other teams are good, but we put our whole hearts into it – and we have a good chance at winning.”
GYMNASTICS STATE Championships
Today and Saturday, Tacoma Dome Exhibition Hall
Schedule: Today – 4A team and all-around, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. 3A/2A/1A team and all-around, 6:20 p.m.-10 p.m. Saturday – All individual event finalists compete from 11:20 a.m.-3 p.m.
Admission: Daily passes are $15 for adults, and $11 for students and senior citizens. Weekend passes are $23 for adults, and $17 for students and senior citizens.
2012 team champions: 4A – Mead. 3A/2A/1A – Enumclaw.
The skinny: One defending champion will try to repeat (Enumclaw); one will not get the opportunity (Mead). The Panthers, after going undefeated in the Greater Spokane League, placed a surprising third behind winner Emerald Ridge and runner-up Jefferson at last week’s Class 4A West Central/Spokane District championships at Mount Rainier High School, and did not qualify for the state meet. Meanwhile, Emerald Ridge is rolling behind district all-around winner CaroLyne Schmidt, who tied for 24th at the 4A state meet last season. KingCo champion Woodinville, the 4A champion from 2007-10, was the state runner-up last season to Mead. The Falcons won their district title at Sammamish High School, scoring a season-high 177.3 points. Newport High’s Candace Ho might be the state all-around favorite after placing third in 4A last season. Enumclaw won the WCD 3A/2A/1A meet last weekend at Mount Rainier, and has Olivia Bannerot (second in state in all-around last season) and Maddison Ward (third) back. Highline’s Kristen Rodal won the West Central District all-around title over Bannerot, and placed eighth last season.