Gymnastics: Timberline junior her sights on all-around

mwochnick@theolympian.comFebruary 20, 2014 

There’s a reason Kourtney Belarde thrives in the all-around.

The Timberline junior likes the way the four-event gymnastics competition brings out two sides of her personality.

After recording a total score of 33.4 points in the District III meet, Belarde qualified as an individual for the Class 3A/2A state meet this weekend at the Tacoma Dome Exhibition Hall.

She’s hoping to use her mental focus and her creativity to place in both the all-around, where she’ll need a high score in floor exercise, and the balance beam. (Vault and bars and the other two events in all-around.)

“Beam makes you have to think. You need lots of repetition and mental preparation,” Belarde said after posting her best marks at districts in the beam (8.875) and floor (9.125). “Floor exercise lets me show who I really am, show off a little and dance. It’s a fun time.”

North Thurston Public Schools coach Shannon Brigham said Belarde is the most talented gymnast she’s coached in six seasons working with athletes from Timberline, North Thurston and River Ridge. Belarde’s performances on the beam show why.

“She never falls off, she’s graceful, sticks it every single time. Never wiggles, never wobbles. You don’t see consistency like that in high school gymnasts,” Brigham said.

With the graduation of several key teammates who had helped raise the level of competition during practice, Brigham said Belarde has had to “step up and push herself” – which feeds off the attribute that caused the Blazer standout to choose gymnastics as her sport.

“My mom put me into gymnastics when I was 5 or so,” Belarde said. “I had already tried all the other sports, soccer, baseball, and hated all of them. I like being a part of a team, but there’s something about being able to do my own thing in gymnastics that I love.”

Doing her own thing is also a reason that Belarde, unlike many budding young gymnasts, chose prep competition over continuing to compete for the Black Hills Gymnastics club, where she still works out with both her high school and on her own during the off season.

“Gymnastics isn’t a sport you can do for just part if the year,” said Brigham, who notes that many club programs won’t allow their athletes to be part of their high school team. That allows schools located in areas where clubs do allow high school team membership to have an advantage.

Belarde realizes the need to keep up her training year-round as an individual but prefers balance in her life as well as on the beam.

“I love gymnastics, but I hated being in the gym all the time and having to leave school early,” she said. “I wanted to do normal teenager things and spend more time with my friends.”

State gymnastics championships

Friday-Saturday, Tacoma Dome Exhibition Hall

Schedule: Friday – 9:15 a.m. individual rotation (3A/2A/1A), 6:30 p.m. individual rotation (4A); Saturday – 11 a.m. individual rotation, 4A, 3A/2A/1A

Tickets: $15 for adults, $11 for seniors and students (single-day pass); $23 for adults, $17 for seniors and students (all-tournament pass).

South Sound QUALIFIERS

Capital: Keira Lathrop (all-around), Carolina Watts (floor, vault), Rosa Quimby (bars)

North Thurston: Amanda Emmett (floor)

Olympia: Maddie Becker (floor, vault), Laura Coor (vault)

Timberline: Kourtney Belarde (all-around), Stephanie Svach (beam, vault) preps.theolympian.com mwochnick@theolympian.com

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