When New Palestine High School gymnastics coach Jenny Musselman first saw Kenzi Hoffman compete, “future individual state qualifier” didn’t come to mind.
But Hoffman has come a long way. Not only has she developed her talents over the past four years, she has become a leader and perfectionist in practice, the coach said.
The senior will cap her career Saturday by competing in her third all-around individual state gymnastics finals at Ball State’s Worthen Arena .
“I thought she was going to be OK,” Musselman said of her first encounter with Hoffman. ” I didn’t think she would be an individual state qualifier until the beginning of her sophomore year. (Then) we all realized how much she had improved and saw that star potential. It wasn’t surprising though, because she is the hardest-working gymnast I have ever had the privilege of coaching. Even as a freshman.”
Hoffman finished third last week at the Lafayette Jeff Regional in the all-around competition, which included placing second on the balance beam and tying for third on the floor exercise, to qualify for state. Franklin Central’s Dana Roth and Noblesville’s Constance and Katherine Chininis will be competing as individuals.
Hoffman also led New Palestine to a second-place team finish at regionals; the Dragons qualified for the team state finals for the first time since 2006.
“Being able to help get our team to the state finals is what I’m really proud of,” Hoffman said of her senior season. “Getting to the state finals as an individual was nice, but getting there as a team has really made my senior season.”
Hoffman is not concerning herself too much with any specific goals for the meet, other than finishing her career with a strong performance. A top-six finish would be icing on the cake.
Hoffman might medal “if she were to have a really good meet,” New Palestine coach Jenny Musselman said. “I’d like to see her get her best all-around score, and it would be awesome for her to place into the top six.”
Musselman said Hoffman’s strength is her consistency in all four events — including the vault and uneven parallel bars — adding she has the ability to score high in all four.
Those skills have been developed with long hours in the gym.
“She’s practicing constantly,” Musselman said. “She’s a perfectionist.”
Hoffman, who has competed in gymnastics since she was 2, wants to finish strong, whether that means medaling or not.
“I want to do the best that I can,” she said. “We’ve already accomplished what I really wanted — get the team to state. If I do really good, awesome.”