SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – The Utah gymnastics team is now 6-0, and ranked #4 in the country. But they suffered another huge loss Saturday night when freshman Kim Tessen tore he Achilles tendon. She’s out for the season, which is brutal.
“It is brutal, it is what our sport is about, unfortunately, its one of the down sides of the sport,” said Megan Marsden, Utah gymnastics co-head coach. “It’s part of older bodies still doing high-level sills and the body just not holding up to it.”
This is the second season-ending injury for Utah in the past two weeks. Sabrina Schwab tore her ACL in practice earlier. And its hard to watch a teammate go down to an injury.
Utah gymnast Tiffany Lewis added, “As a natural human response, its kind of like, whoa, what the heck, but most of us have been in this sport for several years, since we were babies, so we’re used to injuries and seeing those happen and we’ve all kind of grown to learning how to move one, move forward, you can’t go back and change what happened.”
Megan Marsden has seen more than her share of injuries, but it never gets easier.”It’s just hard to watch, it continues to drop me to my knees and then I watch the rest of our team gather together and say “we’re going to do this for Kim, and here we go and we’re not going to go down without a fight” and you ride on their coat tails.”
“It’s obviously very devastating and some things are very freak accidents and things happen,” said Lewis.
Utah does everything it can to avoid these kind of injuries.
“We try so hard,” said Lewis, “we finish practice with 15-20 of rolling out and recovery and coming in and getting treatment so we do everything we can to prevent any injuries from happening but this is a dangerous sport and its unique and our bodies aren’t made to do what we do, but things happen but we just try our best to move on with the season and try to finish strong.”
“The injury thing is just part of it and I think the athletes know as well as anybody that its part of it, its what they sign up for, that is just a possibility, but I think our job as coaches is to keep their heads in what we need to get done next and you just continue to focus,” said Marsden.
Utah has lost a gymnast for the season with an Achilles injury for 4 straight years. But it’s not just here. There were 16 Achilles injuries in college gymnastics last season alone.
“It’s happening across our country in collegiate gymnastics, and that makes me really sad”, said the coach.
But the question is, what can be done about it?
Said Marsden, “That’s the part that’s tricky, everybody is trying to figure it out and until there’s some research done, its hard to know exactly, but there is a chance that certain types of elements that started 15-20 years ago, which would be the round-off entry vault, where they’re rounding off on to the board which puts more of a flexation on to the ankle, these girls, that’s the only vault they’ve ever done since they were 5, so that’s a lot of times for that activity, and that’s new and different in the last 15 years.”