Hallie Kempf went to the state gymnastics meet to do her very best.
And if that meant performing a skill with a higher degree of difficulty, then that’s what she was going to do.
“Doing a high-difficulty skill will help boost your score because it starts with a higher value,” the Camas High sophomore said. “Even though your lower skill may be cleaner or easier to land, I think taking the risk is worth it.”
Unable to land a more challenging vault left Kempf in 25th place in the event, but the sophomore was still able to muster enough points to finish fifth in the 4A all-around and help Camas to a runner-up finish in the team standings.
Because of that, Kempf has been selected as The Columbian’s All-Region gymnast of the year.
For Kempf, the misfire on the vault at state is just an opportunity to get better.
“Gymnastics is a really good character-building sport,” she said. “I don’t think I’d be the person at all that I am today without gymnastics.”
Kempf got her start in gymnastics at age 5 at Naydenov Gymnastics, progressing each year to a higher level of competition until leaving club gymnastics prior to her freshman year at Camas High School.
“Club gymnastics was taking up a lot of my time,” she said. “It was a lot of fun, and I’d like to see what I could have done if I decided to go on. But I think it was just overwhelming, and I think the social aspect of high school I was missing out on doing club. So I just switched to have more of a teenage lifestyle.”
The switch was to high school gymnastics, where she became an instant standout on the Camas High team as a freshman during the shortened COVID season last year.
And Kempf, who also does cheerleading at Camas High School, was having a lot more fun.
“High school gymnastics is a lot more supportive,” Kempf said. “When you’re in club, it’s all about yourself, not really the team. You’re just trying to do the best you can. While in high school, it’s like all team. Everybody all the time is trying to get the highest score for the team, and you can adjust your routine to get the best team result.”
At the 4A state meet in Bellevue last month, Kempf scored a 9.350 on the floor exercise to place fifth and added a 8.950 on the bars to place seventh.
Watching Kempf perform some difficult maneuvers may seem daunting to the casual observer, but she says it’s a product of years of experience.
“You start off by learning the basics,” she said. “As you start building those fundamentals, it all starts stacking up on top of each other. You start doing more and more. You definitely have to overcome some mental blocks in your skills, but with the right coaching and the right people around you, it’s not as hard as it might seem.”
Kempf plans to build off her sophomore season to make her junior season even better.
“The season was kind of rough at the beginning,” she said. “We still did good as a team, but I still feel like I could have done more for my team by practicing more over the summer. So I’m going to definitely try to do that this year so I can jump right in with the skills I had this year and make them better.”
Rest of the All-Region gymnastics team
Olivia Bane, Camas
Despite hurting her knee, Bane placed 11th on the bars and 25th on the floor at the 4A state meet.
Peyton Cody, Camas
Cody placed third on the bars, seventh on the vault and fourth in the all-around at the 4A state meet.
Gretchen Lane, Prairie
Lane placed eighth on the balance beam and 12th in the all-around at the 3A/2A state meet.
Joslyn Mayberry, Ridgefield
Mayberry tied for ninth on the beam and 14th on the vault at the 3A/2A state meet.
McCusker placed 12th on the floor, 14th on bars and tied for 14th in the all-around at the 4A state meet.
Anna Sugarman, Skyview
Sugarman placed third on the beam and 11th in the all-around at the 4A state meet.