All-Region Gymnastics

Columbia River senior is All-Region gymnast of year

By Paul Valencia, Columbian high school sports reporter



Jennifer DeBellis is an expert on the floor exercise. Not so much, she says on the uneven bars.

The judges in her sport believe her to be pretty excellent in both.

DeBellis, a senior from Columbia River, capped her high school gymnastics career with a state championship on the uneven bars last month. She also finished second on the floor giving her a 1-2-1-2 finish in that event in her four years at the Class 3A state meet.

This year, DeBellis also finished 11th in the all-around competition and led the Chieftains to a second-place team finish.

All of that led to The Columbian picking DeBellis as our All-Region gymnast of the year.

The bars title was a surprise to DeBellis.

“My routine was awful the whole season. I didn’t even compete in some events,” she said.

She qualified for state with an easier routine, then finalized what she wanted to try at state about a week before that final competition.

Then she stuck it.

“I didn’t believe it. I just competed in bars so I could compete in all-around and help my team out,” DeBellis said. “I’ve never thought of bars as my thing.”

She is a little bummed about second place on the floor exercise.

“I love floor, and it’s sad I couldn’t win floor this year,” she said.

This is DeBellis’ final dance with gymnastics.

“It’s really fun and real accomplishing when you win, but preparing and the whole mental aspect of it is really tolling.”

DeBellis is going to the University of Illinois as a pole vaulter.

Still, what a career. Two floor titles. A team title as a freshman. And now a title in an event that really wasn’t her thing.

Until 2012.

Season highlights

• Scored a 9.4 on the uneven bars at the Class 3A state championship, then waited to see if someone could top her. No one did. Of the 16 finalists, only three recorded a 9.0 or higher.

• Scored a 9.7 on the floor exercise at state, a solid score. This year, though, somebody topped her. Still, DeBellis finished 1st, 2nd, 1st, and 2nd in this event in her high school career.

• Led Columbia River to a second-place finish in the team competition.

More about Jennifer

• Favorite athlete: “I don’t really pay attention to athletes. It’s weird because I am an athlete. I am a die-hard fan of Columbia River sports.”

• Track and field: Won Class 3A state title in 2011 pole vault competition.

• Book, movie, music: Harry Potter, Inception, and Dubstep music.

• Role model: “My dad (Dave). He’s an engineer. That’s why I started thinking about being an engineer.”

Next year and beyond

• Going to the University of Illinois as a pole vaulter in track and field. Expects to study engineering.


“Gymnastics has meant my future. I don’t think I could have gone as far as I did in pole vault without gymnastics. It changed everything.”

— Jennifer DeBellis

Rest of All-Region team

Britni Atwell, jr., Heritage: Won two state titles at 4A state: vault and floor.

Meghan Costello, jr., Prairie: Event finalist on the vault at 3A state meet.

Nikki Dyer, fr., Columbia River: Placed third at 3A state on floor and fifth on beam.

Jazmin Harris, so., Union: Won a 4A state championship on the beam.

Nicole Moss, fr., Heritage: Placed sixth on the bars and eight on vault at 4A state.

Chelsea Zimmerman, jr., Fort Vancouver: Placed 10th at 3A state on vault and bars.