All-Region gymnastics: Nicole Moss is still hanging around gymnastics

Retired from club gymnastics, Moss shines for Heritage

By Paul Valencia, Columbian high school sports reporter

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Nicole Moss said she retired from her sport a few years ago.

Gymnastics, then, must be quite a hobby for the junior from Heritage.

For the third year in a row, Moss finished in the top six in the prestigious all-around competition at the Class 4A state gymnastics championships.

All-Region gymnastics team

GYMNAST OF THE YEAR

Nicole Moss, jr., Heritage

Moss earned her third consecutive top-6 finish in the Class 4A all-around, placing sixth. She was also a first-team all-4A GSHL selection in the all-around.

Rest of All-Region team

BROOKE ATWELL, SR., HERITAGE: 4A district vault champion, district all-around runner-up, 4A GSHL gymnast of the year.

MEGAN CLARK, SO., MOUNTAIN VIEW: Placed ninth at 3A state on uneven bars; a first-team all-3A GSHL selection on floor exercise.

KENZIE MOXLEY, SO., COLUMBIA RIVER: The lone state medalist from Clark County on individual apparatus, placing eighth on the balance beam.

JAMIE NOLTA, SR., UNION: Placed eighth at 4A state in the all-around; first-team all-4A GSHL selection on balance beam.

LINDSAY WILLIS, SO., PRAIRIE: 3A GSHL gymnast of the year; 3A state finalist on the uneven bars.

KATIE ZINK, JR., COLUMBIA RIVER: Individual 3A state finalist in the vault; first-team all-3A GSHL selection in the all-around.

This winter, she won the district crown, then qualified for the all-around at regionals, and finished sixth at state, giving her two sixth-place finishes and a third-place finish in her three years of high school gymnastics.

For her performance in 2014, she is The Columbian's All-Region gymnast of the year.

Her "retirement" was from club gymnastics.

A gymnast since she was 2, she stopped participating in the ultra-competitive club division after her eighth-grade year. But she never lost the love for the sport.

"Now I can use what I've learned my whole life and use my skills for fun," Moss said. "I can keep up everything I've learned, and I get to do it with my friends."

That is the benefit of high school gymnastics, she said, training and competing with teammates in a less-stressful environment.

Not that there is no stress in high school gymnastics. After all, the sport still demands excellence and concentration.

Moss was thrilled when she scored a 37.25 to win the district all-around title, her best performance of the season.

At state during Friday's all-around (and individual event qualifying), she had a minor glitch in her bars routine. She won the state title in the event in 2013, but this year, she did not make it to finals.

"I didn't let it bother me. I just moved on," she said.

That is the mentality a gymnast must have to succeed. All the years of training, then the months and weeks building to a big meet, a gymnast has roughly 30 seconds on the bars, 90 seconds on the floor and balance beam, and maybe 10 seconds on the vault. That's it. One mistake can be costly.

If you stumble once, the all-around title is pretty much out of reach, she said.

So her focus quickly changed to making it to finals in other events. Not much went as planned on that Friday, but she did nail her vault.

"I was really pumped," Moss said. "I was really glad I had at least one event."

The next day, she scored a 9.525 on the vault. A fine score, but not good enough to medal.

That was OK for Moss, though. She had done her best, made it to Saturday, and still had her sixth-place finish in the all-round.

"Just hanging out with the team and the whole state experience was really fun," Moss said.

Moss is already looking forward to her senior year, to compete one more time with the Heritage Timberwolves.

Or, to describe it another way, it will be her fourth time coming out of retirement.