Tale of two gymnasts | Opposites in the Kentwood gym evidence of team’s potential

For junior Zoe Krambule, this is the 11th year in gymnastics, a sport she began at 3. With junior Tessa Carlin, it’s about the only sport she hasn’t tried before.

It’s a tale of two gymnasts at Kentwood High.

For junior Zoe Krambule, this is the 11th year in gymnastics, a sport she began at 3. With junior Tessa Carlin, it’s about the only sport she hasn’t tried before.

Krambule and Carlin are an example of the variety of ability and experience Ann Diaz, the girls’ coach, believes could perform well at districts and state this year.

“We have a lot more people with skills so we can go further as a team,” Krambule said. “We bonded a lot last year and I think it helped to support everyone.”

Krambule started out the season well. Although she competes in all four events, she has found immediate success on the bars, with a first place at the Dec. 19 meet against Auburn Riverside and Kentridge. It’s also, not surprisingly, her favorite event.

“I like how you feel like you’re flying on it,” Krambule said.

Krambule’s mother decided to channel her daughter’s natural flexibility through gymnastics classes after finding Krambule climbing all over the shelves as a toddler. Krambule continued to participate at a local gym until 2009, when the four and half hour a day practices got to her.

“I kind of got tired of it,” she said.

After a two year hiatus, however, Krambule joined Kentwood’s team as a freshmen, where she found the atmosphere to be less competitive.

“It’s more fun to do,” she said. “They (club) put more stress to get higher scores and be the best.”

At 4-foot-11, Krambule’s diminutive stature is an advantage in the world of gymnastics.

“It’s the one place you can be small and it’s OK for the sport,” she said.

In many respects, Carlin could hardly be more different in terms of her background. Above average height for a gymnast, this is her first time ever participating in gymnastics, one of the few sports she has yet to try. In addition to running for the Conquerors’ cross country team and long distance for the track team, she competed in football in middle school in addition to rugby, and played basketball before deciding to try gymnastics.

Carlin said what got her interested in gymnastics was the desire to become more flexible, which would help improve her running.

What struck her at first was how difficult it was to not only pull off some of the complicated and difficult acrobatic movements, and also look graceful while doing so.

“I had no idea how hard it is to be pretty and elegant and how buff you have to be,” Carlin said.

She said at first she tried to imitate other gymnasts until one of the captains explained to her the need to master the skills.

“They said to learn it, look ugly, and then make it look pretty and elegant,” she said.

Another obstacle to clear was a natural fear of injury while practicing backflips and somersaults.

“For the first two weeks I wouldn’t vault without one of the coaches there,” she said.

Fortunately for Carlin, she said she found her niche in the vault, which she attributes to her running background. Although Carlin has yet to compete at a meet, Diaz said she has high hopes for Carlin.

Reach TJ Martinell at 425-432-1209 ext. 5052.