With only one event left in the competition, the SPU gymnastics team watched as sophomore Danna Nelson ran toward the vault, launched into the air and landed short, not fully completing a flip in her warm-up routine.
The Falcons looked in dismay and concern, already thinking of what this could mean for the future of their season as Nelson was assisted off the mat. Seeing the distraught expressions on their faces, assistant coach Kathy Siwek made her way toward her team to assure them that everything was fine.
Nelson, a three-event athlete for the Falcons and starter on the balance beam, sustained two fractures in her right ankle in the fall.
After Nelson’s fall, the Falcons had no choice but to refocus and compete on the vault with only five athletes.
SPU ended the competition last Friday night against Division I schools San Jose State, Boise State, and Utah State in fourth place with a score of 189.975.
Before her injury on Friday night, Nelson competed in the floor exercise and gave a fall-free routine on the balance beam with a score of 9.625. Nelson took first place on the beam the previous week in SPU’s season opener against UC Davis.
SPU had a thin line-up in the first round of the competition on the uneven bars as well due to a season-ending injury suffered by junior Aubrie Stavig just days prior to their first competition against UC Davis.
"We don’t have a lot of people to put in to take those places," SPU head coach Laurel Tindall said of her team’s line-up, which is now dwindling due to the plague of injuries they have encountered so early on in the season.
Before the disappointment of another injured athlete struck, the SPU gymnasts shone on the floor exercise in the third round and gave their best event performance of the competition, scoring a 48.150.
Senior Debra Huss, who recently received Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) Gymnast of the Week honors for her strong performance against Davis, showed consistency once again by taking fourth place in the all-around competition and scoring a 9.725 on floor.
"We did much better on floor this week, everybody hit their routines," Huss said. "The floor is about entertaining the crowd, and we did that well," she added.
Senior Kristin Bryant scored a 9.725 on the vault and tied for sixth place with Utah State’s Meagan Lewis. Sophomore Amber Lundgren earned the highest score on the uneven bars for the Falcons with a 9.625.
Making a step-by-step comeback to being an all-around competitor again, senior Sarah Sullivan gave a clean routine on the beam and, for the first time since her hand injury, she competed on floor as well.
Although the Falcons achieved a higher overall score than in their season opener and they showed obvious progress on the floor event, they had problems on the beam and bars. In both events they had falls that kept them from overtaking Boise State, who grabbed the third-place spot.
Utah State took first place overall by a score of 194.225. San Jose State was close behind in second scoring a 193.025.
Jessica Parenti-Otte from Utah State gave the strongest overall performance, scoring a 39.300 in the all-around competition to take first place.
The SPU gymnasts will now be traveling to Colorado Springs this Friday where they will compete against the Air Force Academy in an MPSF meet.
Huss said that due to the altitude change, the team will be doing more cardio in between exercises in practice in order to be at the top of their game on the floor.
In previous years, the Falcons have had a high success rate against the Air Force Academy, sweeping them in all four events in 2006.
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Title: Injury in San Jose | Author: Ashley Sweeney | Section: Sports | Published Date: 2007-01-31 | Internal ID: 5393