Competition is nothing new for Jenne Jones.
She’s been competing in gymnastic meets for the Trek Gymnastics Club team for nearly three years.
The level of competition she’s facing this weekend is new, however.
The Poulsbo Junior High ninth grader is the only member of the North Kitsap High School gymnastic team to qualify for the state finals, being held yesterday and today in the Tacoma Dome. She’s the first gymnast from NK to make the state finals since 1995.
Her coach, Kris Goodfellow, is accompanying her to Tacoma and is optimistic about the young gymnast’s chances.
Jones is competing against the state’s top gymnasts in both floor exercise and vault.
Most of the girls Jones will be matched against have been studying gymnastics since they were little more than toddlers.
At 14, she’s a latecomer, by gymnastics standards. She took up the sport only three years ago.
That’s been a problem from only one standpoint.
“I have more fears than the little girls,” Jones said. “I know what can happen.”
Like many other little girls, Jones acquired her interest in gymnastics from watching gymnasts on television.
“I saw them flipping and flying. It looked like so much fun,” she said. Then she added, with a smile, “I knew I could do that.”
Her father, Jeff, coaches wrestling and lots of other sports, and he’s the one who interested Jones to tumbling.
“When you’re flipping, it feels like flying, it’s so natural and it’s so much fun,” she said.
Her brothers are both involved in sports, they’re involved with baseball, soccer and wrestling, so competition and training is a normal part of family life.
She likes having sports be an important part of her life.
“Sports are lots more fun than people think. They keep you out of trouble,” she said in one of her few serious moments.
She is excited to be performing her floor routine in state competition. Of all the aspects of gymnastics, she prefers floor. “I guess I just like showing off,” she admits.
Prior to the meet, she’ll have her mother fix her hair (she always has her mother do it exactly the same way, just for luck) and tuck her good luck bear into her gym bag. Superstitious? She doesn’t admit to it, but says having the same breakfast, and order of preparation help her to feel more relaxed.
Her teammates, who didn’t advance to state competition, are pretty excited and supportive of her, she said.
“They’re just wishing they were in my place,” she laughed.
Is it realistic that she could win a state title as a ninth-grader? She’s not sure, but she’s looking forward to trying.
“Even if someone says your dream is impossible,” Jones said, “you could be that close. You just have to keep trying or you’ll never know.”