BELLEVUE — Alina Helbling only competed as a high-school gymnast for one year, but she made it a memorable one.
Performing an elegant, athletic routine on floor, the senior from University claimed the individual title on that event Saturday at the 4A state gymnastics individual event finals at Sammamish High School.
“This was my last routine at my last meet ever, and I just wanted to go out, have fun, give it my all and do everything I could to the best of my ability,” she said. “Just do my best.”
Helbling became the third Spokane-area gymnast to win the state 4A individual floor title in the last six years. Two from Mead – Zella Conley in 2017 and Jenna Schlosser in 2014 – previously claimed the crown.
Helbling is just the second gymnast from U-Hi to win an individual state championship. She joins Cady Markin, who won the 2011 3A/2A all-around title when University competed at the 3A level.
Helbling is a former club gymnast who trained at level nine but stopped competing during her sophomore year due to a painful ankle injury. “I took a year off, and for my senior year I wanted to come here and just have fun,” she said.
Helbling, who also placed 14th on beam, is glad she did. “High school is a super-duper fun environment,” she said. “It’s all about having friends your age around you. Club gave me the foundation to be able to compete at a high level, but this year was about fun.”
Against a strong field which included 4A all-around champ Shea McGee from Camas, Helbling blended grace and energy in her routine to take first place by 0.025. “I love doing my back one-and-a-half on floor,” she said. “Tumbling just comes easy to me.”
Lexi Weller of Mead earned a seventh-place medal on floor (9.35) and finished 12th on vault (9.35). Her vault score was a career personal best.
Weller sat out a month of training due to a concussion and first returned to competition at regionals just last week.
“I was planning on only doing a handspring full vault because we didn’t know if we wanted to work back to the Tsukahara, since I had only been doing it this year,” the senior said. “But I decided to do it, and a 9.35 is way higher than I’ve gotten before, so I’m happy about that.”
Alexandria Thomas of Ferris earned a seventh-place medal on bars (9.325) and teammate Maile Rocha finished 14th (9.025). Sophia Shawen of Mead placed 12th on floor (9.275).