Corrie Lothrop is the defending Pac-12 champion in the all-around and a five-time All-American. She’s a captain and one of the most experienced gymnasts on a team full of underclassmen. She tore her Achilles tendon Feb. 1 and hasn’t competed since, yet the team has put up higher scores in recent weeks than it did while Lothrop was in the lineup.
In the four meets since Lothrop’s injury, the Utes have scored north of 197 three times. The first of the season was against Cal — the week after Lothrop went down — and Utah earned its highest road score of the year last weekend at BYU, a 197.125.
“I personally have been really surprised that, after a big injury like that, our team was able to come back and still get huge scores,” said Georgia Dabritz. “[Lothrop] was capable of 9.9s on everything, so to take that out of your lineup and still be able to have girls that can put up those scores is a huge accomplishment.”
At the time of her injury, Lothrop was one of only four Utah gymnasts without a fall. She had hit 12 of 12 routines and had scored a 9.8 or higher on every routine except one.
So while some were ready to write the eulogy for Utah’s 2013 season, Utah coaches were waiting for someone to surprise them. So far, more than one gymnast has amazed teammates and coaches alike.
“That’s why we have 13 on our team,” said co-head coach Megan Marsden. “You can only compete six on each event, so you certainly worry about having a lot of injuries. But if we’ve been doing what we’re supposed to as coaches, if they’ve been doing what they’re supposed to as athletes, you should be able to do a relatively good job of filling in.”
Most on the team agree that Tory Wilson has been the most surprising. She stepped into an all-around role after learning a new bars routine only weeks before Lothrop got hurt and has won two all-around titles in her first four attempts. She also won her first beam title last weekend as part of a three-win night.
Dabritz has also been a pillar of Utah’s success. She stepped into her all-around role at the beginning of the year and won the title on her second try. She has been the rock of an inconsistent bars rotation and is tied with Wilson for the team-lead with 12 total wins.
The list doesn’t end there.
Nansy Damianova has become a three-event specialist and set a career-high 9.925 on vault against BYU. Lia Del Priore has set career-highs on vault and floor — the latter of which was a perfect 10. Freshman Breanna Hughes has put up steady 9.8s or higher on Utah’s two most troublesome events — bars and beam. Becky Tutka stepped into the beam rotation for the first time in her career while also taking the anchor spot on floor, where she is ranked sixth in the nation.
So while no one is grateful for Lothrop’s absence, some of the gymnasts have taken full advantage of their enhanced roles on the team. Marsden would prefer to have her team at full strength, but she has been pleasantly surprised by what has happened in the wake of Lothrop’s injury.
“Some neat things can come from a bad situation,” Marsden said. “They knew they had big shoes to fill, and I think we had some people that were ready for the opportunity.”