Eberle ready to roll for Red Rocks

Guess who’s back? Returning after a two-week hiatus is the U gymnastics team’s junior All American, Annabeth Eberle. The last two weeks, Eberle has been sidelined by an ankle injury that has plagued her all year, which will require surgery after the season.

Prior to her two-meet rest, Eberle was nationally ranked at No. 4 in the all-around, No. 3 on the vault, No. 9 on the beam, and No. 10 on the floor. She could regain many of those rankings with a strong performance at Washington in a meet with the Huskies and Iowa Hawkeyes this Friday.

The question for Eberle is: Where has the two weeks off left her?

“She looks good in practice,” Marsden said. “I don’t know how she’ll respond being in a meet situation again. If she goes in and just enjoys herself and stays relaxed, then she’ll do fine, but if she goes in trying to pick up where she left off, it will be harder for her to stay focused on her routines.”

It’s hard to imagine Eberle not in top form. She hasn’t fallen during a routine all year (22 for 22), and she hasn’t scored below a 9.825 in any event. Nevertheless, she is human, and a short layoff might have its effects.

“I’m slowly getting back into it, but Greg doesn’t want me to push it too much,” Eberle said.

Not pushing it too much in Eberle’s terms is not inserting the upgrade she’s been working on for her floor routine. The fact that she’s even been working on an upgrade after practicing only twice in two weeks speaks volumes about her determination.

To Eberle, however, it’s all commonplace.

“The first day of practice went OK, but yesterday went really well, so it really only took me a day to regain trust in my ankle,” Eberle said. “I feel like I’m picking up where I left off.”

In some ways she is picking up where she left off, competing in the all-around in her first meet back. Of the four events, Eberle’s only concern is the vault.

“Vault is the toughest on my ankle, so I changed my vault to one that puts less pressure on my ankle,” she said.

Eberle should also be feeling less pressure on herself after the re emergence of senior Melissa Vituj, who has been performing brilliantly of late.

Last Friday, Eberle was sidelined as Vituj and several other Utes rattled off career-high score after career-high score on their way to the second-best score in team history.

“It was so hard to watch,” Eberle said. “It was fun, but I really wanted to participate.”

Eberle will get her chance to do so in Seattle after a painful two weeks, but she will be doing so in Vituj’s shadow for the first time all year. Although the two are teammates and co-captains, there is an unspoken rivalry between the two that drives them both.

“We don’t really talk about that, but you can tell it’s there,” Eberle said. “There’s competition back and forth between us on every event, but its friendly.”

The two Utes will also receive stiff competition in the all-around from Washington and Iowa, which both have capable all around gymnasts. But winning is not Eberle’s chief concern-yet.

“I’m not even thinking about winning the all-around,” Eberle said. “It would be nice, but I’m not putting any kind of pressure on myself. I just want to go out there and get back to the mindset I was in for the first competitions.”

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