After losing sophomore Sabrina Schwab to a torn ACL, the University of Utah gymnastics team is down another gymnast. This time to a torn achilles tendon.
While the Red Rocks were warming up for their meet against Pac-12 foe Washington, freshman Kim Tessen was practicing her first tumbling pass — a double pike. Though it was a relatively simple pass that she didn’t do anything wrong on, co-head coach Megan Marsden said the effect of the trauma to the tendon over time created her injury.
“The nature of that injury is quite prevalent across the country, especially at the college level because it is micro tears over time,” Marsden said. “It is not something anyone is taking lightly though. We have incredible equipment, incredible medical staff, but this injury continues to happen in this sport.”
Marsden said Tessen tends to have a dry sense of humor (great one liners) and she’s handling the injury fairly well. Marsden does think Tessen is heartbroken inside, but she is able to make light of the situation despite the long road to recovery.
Filling in shoes — or leotards
With another injury on the team, Marsden likes how her gymnasts have been filling in the gaps. Watching how the team has handled both Schwab’s and Tessen’s injury, Marsden thinks it took great leadership and gritty determination to overcome this bump in the road.
“It’s an impressive group of young women and as difficult as an injury is in this sport it continues to drop me to my knees when it happens. These athletes and their spirit and the ones remaining are what keep them going,” Marsden said.
One gymnast who stepped in when she was needed was freshman Missy Reinstadtler. On bars, Reinstadtler subbed in for Tessen. While there was some pressure said it was not anything she wasn’t familiar with.
“My goal is just to go out and hit a routine like I know how to,” Reinstadtler said. “Obviously there are things I can improve on, but I am just happy to be able to contribute to the team.”
Despite not being sure if Reinstadtler would be up to speed following an injury over the summer, Marsden is proud of her performances.
“What I love is her quality of movement,” Marsden said. “The way she moves, she has beautiful lines, gorgeous toe-point, a subtleness and softness about her dance. Kim was the opposite — just this little dynamo-fireplug — but there is something about Missy that is pleasing to the eye when you watch her move.”
Leading the Pac
The Red Rocks are undefeated following another win this past weekend. The only other undefeated team in the Pac-12 is Cal, and the Utes will be facing them this Saturday, Feb. 4 in the Huntsman Center.
Along with being undefeated, the Red Rocks are ranked No. 4 nationally. With all that in mind, Marsden said she just wants the team to show they can contend for a title.
“It is important to Tom [Farden] and I that we continue to prove that we are a threat: a threat for Super Six, a threat for a Pac-12 Championship,” Marsden said. “We have to do that each week. Right now, I feel like we are doing that, and we are going to continue to do that.”
While the team has been depleted, Marsden thinks the team still has some depth, so it’s not time to panic. She added that they are changing a little bit of their strategy with some of their tumbling and how they will proceed each week through the rest of the regular season. However, it doesn’t change the potential of this team, and Reinstadtler agrees.
“Every time we go out there, we just want to win,” Reinstadtler said. “We just go into every meet doing what we know what to do and performing like we do, and we are hoping that that will take us [to the top].”