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The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Communication breakdown

By Tony Pizza

During vault warm-ups Friday before the Red Rocks took on Michigan, senior captain Nicolle Ford was visibly favoring her right ankle after finishing each practice vault. Earlier in warm-ups, head coach Greg Marsden noticed her limping, which led him to question his lone senior’s ability to participate against the visiting Wolverines.

“I asked her during warm-ups, I said, ‘Are you OK?’ and she said, ‘Yeah,'” Marsden said. “I accept some of the responsibility. Obviously I saw her favoring that a little bit or I wouldn’t have asked her about it if she was sure she was alright.”

Ford decided her ankle was not injured enough to keep her out of competition, and she proved it through the first three events as she took a .025-point lead over teammate Ashley Postell going into floor. In the amount of time it took for Ford to under-rotate on a double layout and short-land the difficult skill, the decision to participate immediately changed from being no big deal to a season-altering mistake.

Unfortunately, changing the past does not come with hindsight, but it does offer a chance to learn from mistakes. What Marsden would like to see change in the future is the type of communication he has with his gymnasts.

“I’m not upset. I just wish for her and for (the team) that between the two of us we would have decided to go another direction (Friday night)-but that’s easy to say now,” Marsden said.

It turns out Ford had been carrying the ankle injury with her since her floor routine in the Georgia meet, and the pain had limited her in practice leading up to the meet against Michigan. Ford and Marsden both knew of the injury. Obviously Ford was the only one in a position to make a judgment of whether she was able to compete or not, and that is a decision Marsden said he has to be able to trust his gymnasts to make.

“There’s got to be good communication, and I’ve got to be able to trust them to make a good decision?especially a senior,” Marsden said.

In Ford’s defense, she is a competitor. She is the type of gymnast who wants to lead her team and not make excuses. She admitted that unless her foot was “just dangling” she would have a hard time taking herself out of the lineup. Those qualities are the reason she is a top collegiate gymnast. But Marsden pointed out how those same qualities can be harmful, as well.

“The same things that make them good sometimes get them in trouble, and I think that’s where we are with Queenie (Ford) right now,” Marsden said.

Ford is such an integral piece to the Red Rocks’ national championship hopes that if her injury would have been of the season-ending variety, those hopes would have vanished faster than a snowflake in Phoenix. It would also be a devastating way for Ford to finish out her collegiate career.

Ford underwent precautionary X-rays on her right ankle Monday and the results for a break, or any other structural damage, came back negative. Still, Ford’s participation in the lineup will likely be nonexistent when the Utes travel to Lincoln, Neb., this weekend.

Ford said she feels the most pain on vault and floor, and those will be the events she sits out until her ankle significantly improves.

Although the Red Rocks’ depth has improved dramatically since the season started, Ford’s absence leaves the Utes with a big hole to fill-especially if she is completely out of the lineup during the first few weeks of recovery. The Utes are particularly thin on bars, where Annie DiLuzio, Beth Rizzo and Katie Kivisto are unable to participate at this point. While Sarah Shire, Stephanie Neff and Jamie Deetscreek could theoretically perform a bars routine if necessary, none of the gymnasts are fully prepared to do a routine on bars just yet.

The Utes will also be hit hard on beam, where Ford has been one of the strongest and most consistent competitors for the Red Rocks all season. Ford’s 9.82 season average ranks her just above Kristina Baskett for best on the team.

The Utes will also potentially miss Ford’s knack for winning events-something she has done 11 times this season.

Mike Terry

Medical staff rush to the aid of Nicolle Ford last Friday when she fell to the floor from injuring her ankle in Utah’s meet against Michigan. Head coach Greg Marsden says he is partially responsible because he knew Ford’s ankle had been bothering her since their meet in Georgia on Feb. 16.

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