When Crystal Barkley is going through her floor routine at Puyallup High practices, it looks like a seamless display as she effortlessly transitions through one difficult maneuver after another.
And in one swift motion, Barkley lands a handless cartwheel followed by a forward flip, landing in one of the mat’s corners.
Her Vikings teammates struggled to land both moves themselves at the Washington Academy of Gymnastics facility in Fife.
“(Barkley) has a lot of power behind her movements. You can really feel and see the strength behind her floor routine,” Puyallup coach Dorinda Carpenter said. “We feel confident with her going into postseason as one of our all-around performers. We just need to figure out who’s going to join her.”
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A year after Puyallup had one all-around representative in Kate Jacobsen, who came in ninth at state at the Exhibition Center inside the Tacoma Dome, it now rests on Barkley to take up that charge as the Vikings head into the postseason.
“(Jacobsen) was pretty good. I admired her,” Barkley said. “It’s my senior year, and I want to go all out. I’m pulling new stunts, and hopefully, I can get to state.”
Five postseason slots are open for the Vikings, and as of right now, only Barkley has been the solid piece on Puyallup’s roster.
“My main strength is my power because I can tumble hard and vault hard, while getting up on my jumps,” Barkley said.
(Barkley) has a lot of power behind her movements. You can really feel and see the strength behind her floor routine.
Dorinda Carpenter, Puyallup gymnastics coach
With Barkley already taking over the spot that Jacobsen held last postseason — with a floor routine that can captivate — the main question is whether the Vikings can find another to join her this year. There are possibilities in place for Puyallup. Olivia Gamache has shown the capabilities of handling the rigors of competing in all the events at a meet.
“We have some girls who are right there, we just haven’t seen the consistency that we’ve seen with Crystal,” Carpenter said.
Then there’s Hannah Halford, Marisa Nielsen and Madison Mestas, who have all shined at one meet or another, which gives Carpenter hope that Barkley won’t be alone once Puyallup reaches state.
“I’ve been putting in a lot of work, especially on the floor routines, to be able to join her (Barkley),” Mestas said.
Even as Puyallup closes out the 4A SPSL league season in third place (6-4, 5-2), the real action of the season is about to begin.
“We’re just all working our hardest to get to state as a team,” Halford said. “We know we might not make it, but we want to get better as a team.”
It’s (about) just channeling that energy and performing.
These next few weeks will be crucial for Puyallup, Carpenter believes, as the real testament of the team — for those competing in the all-around events like Barkley or individual events — and the Vikings have a real chance to shine.
“It’s (about) just channeling that energy and performing,” Barkley said.