Oregon State walk-on Kailie Ponto is making her mark
BERKELEY, Calif. – Being a walk-on is never easy, especially if you’re at a powerhouse program like No. 11 Oregon State. But junior Kailie Ponto has overcome the obstacles and inserted herself as an invaluable member of the Beavers squad, posting an 9.825 on the floor (tying the second-best Oregon State score in the event) at the 2014 Pac-12 Women’s Gymnastics Championships.
“It means the world to me to help out the team,” Ponto said. “It warms my heart and I do it for them, for my teammates.”
The Kenmore, Wash. native was an alternate the past two years until she was penciled into the competition lineup for the first time in her career for the March 9 dual meet against Arizona. She scored a 9.85 on floor to tie the team-high score against the Wildcats, and later led the team with a 9.875 in that same exercise last week against Washington in front of family and friends in Seattle.
“She was always motivating them by her work ethic, but it’s great to see that now she has the opportunity to compete in front of the fans as well, and they get to see what we’ve seen for the past three years.” said Oregon State coach Tanya Chaplin, “She’s a beautiful person inside and out.”
Ponto competed in exhibition meets the past two seasons, making her first appearance for the Beavers in an exhibition role on the balance beam at Arizona in 2012 with a score of 9.625. She later set a season-high of 9.75 for the beam in March of 2012. She performed at another exhibition on the floor exercise at Arizona State in 2013, but 2014 is proving to be her year and Ponto couldn’t be more excited to make her mark.
“Everyday I had to come in with a positive attitude, help the team out as much as I can,” Ponto said recalling her alternate years. “It’s a drive and I think that it’s all driven by my passion for the sport because I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t love this sport and my team.”