High school gymnasts go out shining for Washington

Camas graduates Amanda Bolton and Amy Siebenthaler enjoy one last tumble

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Left to right: Clark County high school gymnasts Dakota McMillan (Union), Jordan Hess (Columbia River), Amy Siebenthaler (Camas) and Amanda Bolton (Camas) represented Team Washington at the National High School Gymnastics Senior Showcase May 20 and 21, at the DiamondHead Beach Resort in Fort Myers, Fla.

A love for gymnastics took Camas High School graduates Amy Siebenthaler and Amanda Bolton all the way to Florida.

Bolton and Siebenthaler competed in the 2011 National High School Gymnastics Senior Showcase, May 20 and 21, in the Estero Community Center at the DiamondHead Beach Resort in Fort Myers, Fla. They represented Team Washington with Dakota McMillan, of Union High School in Camas, Jordan Hess, from Columbia River High School in Vancouver, and nine other girls from Tacoma and Seattle.

“It was cool that it was on a national stage instead of just a state stage,” Siebenthaler said. “I knew my hard work had paid off on a broader scheme.”

Out of 95 gymnasts competing in the all-around on May 20, Siebenthaler finished in 36th place with a combined score of 33.525 points. Bolton took 54th place with a score of 27.225.

Siebenthaler was one of 15 gymnasts who qualified for finals on the floor exercise. On May 21, she capped off her high school career by notching ninth in the nation on floor with a score of 9.025.

“I liked the combination between my tumbling and my dancing,” Siebenthaler said. “It was a good farewell. I definitely brought out a lot of emotion.”

Bolton, Siebenthaler, McMillan and Hess helped Team Washington finish in seventh place against some of the best high school seniors from Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Connecticut, Virginia, Texas, Wisconsin and Rhode Island.

“There was some insanely good gymnastics there. Most of these girls were coming from some top notch clubs from all over the country,” Siebenthaler said. “I am so proud of Amanda and I for going from a small town in Camas all the way to nationals. We both went out there with no inhibitions and just did the best we could do. It was exciting.”

The team practiced together once in Seattle in March, and another time in Vancouver in April, before going to nationals. Siebenthaler was amazed how fast all the girls from different parts of the state bonded. She got to go parasailing with them in Florida, which was a first for her.

“We all became one big team from Washington that stuck together and did well,” Siebenthaler said. “Every single girl who got to go there was a senior excited about their new endeavours after high school. We were all experiencing our last hurrah together. It was neat.”

Siebenthaler made some new friends with her teammates. She hopes to see some of them again this fall, when she begins attending the University of Washington and pursuing degrees in biology and U.S. history.

“Next year, I’m going to a school that has 4,500 people on campus. It’s going to be a big change from Camas, so I’m glad to have those connections,” Siebenthaler said. “No matter where I go, or where I move to, I will probably always call Camas ‘home.’ I just love how humble, honest and good natured people are here. I never want to lose that.”

As she leaves home, Siebenthaler wishes nothing but the best for the Clark County school and the club gymnastics programs she has grown to love. She reached new heights on the bars, beam, floor and the vault by competing for the Vancouver Elite Gymnastics Academy for the past 10 years. She has nothing but love for the coaches and teammates who helped her soar.

“Gymnastics taught me a lot. Almost as much as my parents,” Siebenthaler said. “I hope these programs continue to grow and flourish. I hope more people can grow to love the sport as much as I do, or even half as much as I do. That would be good.”