Gymnastics has brought out the best - not the boast - in CeCe Mortenson.
Mortenson, a Kent-Meridian High School senior, would love to win the all-around title at the South Puget Sound League North Division meet Saturday at Auburn and knows she's capable of doing so.
But she also knows of at least three other gymnasts capable of winning, too - Auburn juniors Gloria Spencer and Julie Henning, and Puyallup senior Elli Maulding.
Spencer won last year's title by a tenth of a point over Mortenson, who led Maulding by the same margin. Henning did not turn out for the Auburn team last year, competing at the club level instead.
"Whoever is on that night and hits all their tricks is going to win it," Mortenson said. "I know we've all been working on new tricks."
K-M Coach Gunter Bohrmann expects tight competition, too.
"There are so many good girls at the top," he said.
Mortenson, however, might be the most consistent of the lot. While she has topped 36 points in all-around competition, she generally scores between 35.5 and 35.7. She doesn't try as many fancy moves as some of the others, but she rarely misses what she does try. It frustrates Bohrmann that Mortenson isn't more highly rewarded for clean routines.
"I always feel bad that judges don't reward clean routines the way they do sloppy, difficult ones," he said, "because gymnastics is supposed to look good. . . . CeCe's routines look so good, so clean. Sometimes she doesn't have the fancy stuff some kids do, but that's what gymnastics is all about."
Mortenson focused last summer on eliminating mistakes from her routines. As the big meets approach, she also is adding more difficulty, such as a full twist in floor exercise.
While many athletes thrive on competition and loathe practice, Mortenson is just the opposite.
"I like workouts the most," she said. "I like this team a lot. It's the favorite team I've ever been on, because we're really close. I've just had a lot of fun. Meets are always stressful. You have to worry about competition so much. I enjoy going to practice and doing tricks that so few people can do."
Mortenson's best event is balance beam - she tied for fifth at state last season - but she said she currently enjoys the uneven parallel bars most. She hopes to make finals (top 10) in both events at state, as well as finish in the top 10 in all-around.
Mortenson's parents got her started in gymnastics young.
"I was always doing cartwheels and getting in trouble at the supermarket," she said. "I remember my parents would be disappointed when I came home from practice. They expected me to be dead tired, but I always had lots of energy."
Mortenson competed for Gymnastics Unlimited in Federal Way until sixth grade, when she began experiencing problems with her left elbow. Now she enjoys coaching young gymnasts and has been an unofficial assistant for K-M's team, which consists mostly of girls without club experience.
"She's an excellent teacher," Bohrmann said of his only senior. "She makes my job easier. And CeCe is one of the hardest-working gymnasts. She's really earned where she is."
That work ethic, plus her experience, has made Mortenson's routines, well, routine.
"I never have to worry about CeCe in a meet," Bohrmann said. "That's where her club experience comes in. She has competed so many times. It is very rare that CeCe misses."
------------------------------------------. GYMNASTS TO WATCH. .
-- The top all-around gymnasts to watch in Saturday's SPSL and Seamount League meets:
. SPSL. . Anne-Marie Ebaugh, soph., Fed. Way. . Julie Henning, jr., Auburn. . Melanie Kosoff, sr., Auburn. . Tracy Lyne, soph., Decatur. . Jennifer Mauch, sr., Federal Way. . Ellie Maulding, sr., Puyallup. . CeCe Mortenson, sr., Kent-Meridian. . Gloria Spencer, jr., Auburn. .
. SEAMOUNT LEAGUE. . . Alyssa Blodgett, sr., Hazen. . Terina Cook, soph, Mount Rainier. . Karen Chikusa, fresh., Hazen. . Amber Posey, sr., Lindbergh. . Jennifer Swartley, jr., Lindbergh. . Corrie Takahashi, jr., Lindbergh. . Kari Petrasek, soph., Highline. . Sandy Sudo, sr., Renton.