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High school gymnastics preview capsules


When The Free Lance–Star gathered its All-Area athletes last February after the winter sports season, Stafford’s Ashley Hinton did a rare thing: She posed for a photo for the gymnastics team, switched uniforms and then took a second picture for her indoor track and field exploits.

In 2012 Hinton completed a rare Free Lance–Star feat, earning All-Area status in both sports—an accomplishment the can aim for again this winter.

“She is somebody, I think, that is driven by multitasking,” Stafford gymnastics coach Shawn Thurston said. “She wants to do well, and she loves being involved in all those activities.”

For the track team, Hinton has become quite the accomplished pole vaulter.

As a sophomore, she cleared 11 feet during the 2012 outdoor season and placed second at the Group AAA state championships, following up Commonwealth District and Northwest Region titles in the event.

In gymnastics, she was the district beam champion and placed second in the all-around. She was also second in the Northwest Region all-around, best among a strong group of local entrants.

Thurston and Stafford track coach Pete Augrom work together to juggle Hinton’s schedule between the gym and the track. And Hinton also has commitments to her club gymnastics teams.

And it’s a good thing they’re so flexible, because if she had to chose just one, “there’s no way I could,” Hinton said.

Hinton thinks gymnastics helps her pole vaulting, building strength and the overall acrobatic skills needed to lift oneself at then end of a stick up and over a bar high in the air.

And pole vaulting has never gotten in the way of extensive time in the gym, especially over the spring and summer.

“I’m one of those people that everything I do,” she said, “I have to get a 100 percent on it.”

Hinton hopes to clear 11–6 or even 12 feet in the pole vault this year, and just this week she’s begun improving her run-up and her entry into the vault.

In gymnastics, beam is clearly a strength. But she also wants to improve her vault—a skill Thurston said she’s already elevated greatly since her freshman year—and make her bars routine more crisp.

But Hinton is already among the favorites in the Commonwealth District all-around competition, and could be very strong in the state and region meets again, too.

And Stafford will field a strong team again with hopes of capturing another district team title.

“Oh absolutely,” Hinton said. “The girls from the first practice have already been working so hard.”

Hinton hasn’t begun considering college options, but Augrom thinks she could vault at the next level. Hinton hopes to find a school where she can continue to do both sports.

Whatever the case, Augrom thinks Hinton has the drive to succeed.

“She puts into it whatever she can,” he said. “It depends on how far she wants to go. The opportunity is there, and the more she works at it, the better she’s going to get.”

Justin Rice: 540/368-5045