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Pacific native Katie Borcherding aims to make Team USA as part of only women's pair in competition

"It’s definitely amazing to be able to be here, and her family can be here and watch her, and see what they’re going to do," her mom Laurie says

ST. LOUIS — The main event floor at the Dome at the America’s Center is split into two halves this weekend.

One half is where the U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Team Trials are taking place.

The second half is where acrobatic gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics, and trampoline and tumble are taking place. 

These sports are not Olympic sports just yet, but gymnasts from these events will also be named to Team USA through the national competition being held. 

Those members named to the team will have the chance to compete in the Pan American Gymnastics Championships later this year, before having the chance to compete at the World Championships next March.

Worlds is the competition equivalent to the Olympics for these sports.

Acrobatic gymnastics is a sport 18-year-old Katie Borcherding describes as cheer, acrobatic gymnastics and dance, combined into one floor routine.

Her journey to the national competition began 16 years ago.

“I started mom-and-tot classes when I was 2,” Borcherding said. “And then I went through levels pretty quickly, and joined their team for a long time.”

Katie started her career as a traditional gymnast at Barron Gymnastics, but that wasn’t her only passion.

“I actually was competing in dance at the same time as gymnastics,” she said. “And the dance studio offered an acrobatic program, and the coach saw me and asked me to join.”

She eventually switched her focus to acrobatic gymnastics full time. She competed in pairs at Power Club Express for one year before the gym closed.

With only 10 other acrobatic gyms in the state of Missouri to choose from, her mother Laurie Borcherding stepped in. Laurie said she didn’t open her gym solely for Katie’s needs, but because of her passion for the sport as well.

“It started from a cartwheel, and then my coach was in circuses and was like, come check this out,” Laurie Borcherding said. “And I did. I did acrobatics in the circus, and tumbling in the circus.”

Laurie’s years in the circus were over, but her passion for the sport remained. She became Katie’s full-time coach at her gym, Show-Me Acro, in Pacific, Mo. 

“When you coach your own kid, it’s hard,” Laurie Borcherding said. “But it’s cute because when they’re little they make the little school cards that say, ‘I just want to grow up and be like mom. A good gymnast like mom.’ And it’s just kind of like a bond that you have as they grow and develop.”

Katie chose to become a base, a position few females become at the elite level because of the immense strength it requires. But for Katie, strength wasn’t an issue.

“Her demeanor makes it so that her partners are striving for excellence, and continuing to push day in and day out,” Laurie Borcherding said.

She worked with one partner for many years, but they split in 2021.

The one thing Katie couldn’t change is her height. Being shorter than most of her male competition, she faced the challenge of finding a new partner to be the top.

Her partner needed to be the right height, and at her same elite level, in order to compete at the national competition. She ended up finding her perfect match across the country.

“I had a four-day notice,” Katie Borcherding said. “And I packed up all my stuff and moved to California.”

California is where Ciera McKown trained. She and Katie worked together for just two months to prepare to compete on the biggest stage in the country at the national championships. And they’d be the only women’s pair in the junior elite competition.

Most pairs work together for years.

But Katie remains confident as she returns home to compete where it all started — with her mom in the stands rooting her on.

“I can’t even put it into words,” Katie Borcherding said. “It means everything that she gets to be here and watch.”

“You get nervous watching as a parent,” Laurie Borcherding said. “But then also as the coach, you kind of look at it a little bit different. Like, 'be tighter, how good was everything?' So, it’s amazing. It’s definitely amazing to be able to be here, and her family can be here and watch her, and see what they’re going to do.”