Kentwood's Krambule hopes to leave mark on the wall | Gymnastics

Zoe Krambule (right) laughs with her teammates at practice in the small Kentwood gymnasium while getting her injured left ankle taped by her coach, Ann Diaz.  - Eric Mandel
Zoe Krambule (right) laughs with her teammates at practice in the small Kentwood gymnasium while getting her injured left ankle taped by her coach, Ann Diaz.
— image credit: Eric Mandel

There are 14 names painted on the back wall of the small gym inside Kentwood High School. Each one represents a member of the school’s gymnastics “Hall of Fame,” honoring the only top 10 state finishers in school history.

An ankle-wrapped arrow of energy whips around in circles, finishing another practice swing on the uneven bars, just in front of the black and green shrine. And as senior Zoe Krambule prepares for yet another dismount, she hopes the landing this time will earn her a place with the other high school legends.

“Last year I got 12th,” said Krambule, 17, of Kent. “I was close.”

The ultra-petite senior is the only Conquerors gymnast with state aspirations in 2014 and is preparing for her final flips as a student-athlete.

After 13 years in club gymnastics and four on the Kentwood squad, she has worked much of her life prepping for a chance to join those elite wall-of-famers.

At just 5 feet tall, Krambule is by far the littlest gymnast on the team, which, unlike most other sports, is a benefit, rather than a detriment.

“The smaller you are, the more compact you are and the easier it is to do this stuff,” said Ann Diaz, the team’s head coach since 2000.

The uneven bars are Krambule’s specialty, but Diaz believes the rolling dynamo could earn a state bid for her floor routine, vault and all-around.

But Krambule’s success extends beyond the mat. She no longer actually attends Kentwood, instead venturing out to Green River Community College for the Running Start program to get an early start on her future. She enjoys her psychology classes and — surprise, surprise — also loves sports. The combination has made choosing a prospective major as easy as a math equation.

“Sports and psychology, put them together and you’ve got sports psychology,” she said. “Seems simple.”

Back in the gym, Krambule demonstrates a lithe grace with each swing that complements the powerful command of her movements. Even during stumbles in practice, she comically summersaults through and finishes with a traditional salute.

“Everyone else, we just splat on the ground and we are dead,” said fellow senior Tessa Carlin, 18, who joined the team last year. “She’s an inspiration. She’s phenomenal at everything.”

The state tournament starts in February, but Krambule also has eyes on an even bigger prize, sending an application to represent Washington in the national finals this spring.

Thanks to last year’s strong showing, plus the positive progression in 2014, Diaz is confident that an invitation is forthcoming.

Krambule is currently facing a new obstacle, having rolled her ankle during warm-ups of a meet earlier this month. Diaz said her star performer was disapointed, not because of the pain, but because it would force her to miss the first meet of her high school career.

Despite some tenderness, bruising and swelling, Diaz doesn’t believe the injury will impact Krambule’s top-10 state aspirations.

Krambule agreed with her coach’s assessment as she turned back for another swing on the bars, keeping her eyes set on the wall.


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