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A bounce in her step

The Baltimore Sun

Alongtime gymnast, Pikesville senior Camilla Nichols adapted her strengths to become one of Baltimore County's top athletes in the field events in indoor and outdoor track. Her skills in the high jump and long jump have her training for the pentathlon at the Nike Indoor Nationals in March. Nichols, 17, has county titles in both events and finished second in the high jump at the Class 1A state track and field finals last spring. She also finished second in power tumbling at the USA Gymnastics nationals in Chicago in 2006 in the Level 10, 15-and-over division. At Pikesville, Nichols, who has a 3.59 grade point average, is a fall cheerleader and vice president of her class. She's not sure which sport she will pursue in college.

Which sport did you start first?

Gymnastics. I was just always flipping around the house, so my mom put me in a class, and I fell in love with it.

How long have you been in gymnastics?

When I started the classes, I was probably 7. Now, I don't do the gymnastics that everybody knows, the bars, the beam and the floor. I used to do that when I was little.

What do you do now?

It's called tumbling and trampoline. First, there's power tumbling. It's like the floor except it's longer. ... You do eight skills in a row, and the last skill is a big "wow skill." We also do double mini, which is a small, long trampoline. It's like our vault, and you do two skills on it. Then there's trampoline, which is now in the Olympics. We're like cousins to the all-around gymnastics. We have worlds and nationals, but we're not in the Olympics yet.

How does your gymnastics background help in track?

When it comes to jumping, gymnastics helps, because you jump in gymnastics and you have to be able to twist your body different ways. Gymnastics is a very strict sport because if you do something wrong, it's more dangerous, so you have to learn how to do the technique. When it comes to track, it keeps me more focused.

How did you get interested in the pentathlon and the heptathlon?

The end of last year is when I began hearing about it. I didn't know they existed really, but coach [Gerard] Filosa thought since I do so many events and I do them pretty well that I should try it and see how it goes. Have you ever competed in a full pentathlon?

No. It kind of seems like it, because I compete in four events every meet, but I've never done the shot put or the 800 meters before, so we'll see how it goes.

Are you looking forward to being able to vote this year?

Yes, because now I'll have a say. A lot of people say, "I don't need to know, because I can't do anything about it," so now I'll have a reason to know who I should vote for, why is this a good candidate, why is what they believe something good.

Why did you get involved in the club Students for Environmental Action?

With the whole global warming thing, it's kind of scary. When you watch the movies and you talk about it specifically, when you get into how it's happening and what we're doing, it seems kind of cruel and selfish of us to do that and then say, "Oh well, we won't be alive when it happens" or "Maybe it's going to happen no matter what we do." I know I can't change everything, but if I know what's going on, at least I don't have to contribute to [global warming].

Did you make a New Year's resolution?

I'm trying not to argue with my sister, because sometimes you say as much with not talking as with yelling. I don't yell a lot, but I don't want to yell at all. I want to be calm, because yelling doesn't really help.


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