Gymnastics: Red Rocks looking to overcome falls, injuries

Baely+Rowe+competes+on+the+beam+at+the+Red+Rocks%E2%80%99+first+meet+of+the+season+at+the+Huntsman+Center.+Photo+by+Brent+Uberty.

Brent Uberty

Baely Rowe competes on the beam at the Red Rocks’ first meet of the season at the Huntsman Center. Photo by Brent Uberty.

Baely Rowe competes on the beam at the Red Rocks’ first meet of the season at the Huntsman Center. Photo by Brent Uberty.
Baely Rowe competes on the beam at the Red Rocks’ first meet of the season at the Huntsman Center. Photo by Brent Uberty.

While Utah wound up with the fourth-best score in the nation last weekend, two uncharacteristic falls on bars by veteran leaders Corrie Lothrop and Nansy Damianova were a lowlight.

Damianova credited her fall to first-meet nerves.

“I find that every year, the first meet always stresses me out the most,” she said. “You just are getting back out there, and you kind of need another meet to get used to it. I felt pretty confident, but seeing Corrie fall in front of me did put a little more pressure on me. I’ve been in situations where I’ve been more nervous than this. I just didn’t adjust as much as I should have, and I know what my mistake was.”

Although two falls is something to be concerned about, co-head coach Megan Marsden is not too worried about the situation, especially because Lothrop is just coming back from injury.

“I think there’s a chance that Corrie is feeling a little bit of pressure to come back and instantly being her old self of being a rock and competitor,” Marsden said. “She had a miss at Red Rocks Preview and may have let that get in her head a little bit. When you start thinking that way, sometimes that is exactly the way it will go. Knowing her, she’s going to get this figured out and be fine.”

Losing Lopez

Undoubtedly the most unfortunate thing to occur Saturday was the Achilles’ heel injury sustained by junior Kassandra Lopez. She is expected to miss the entire season.

“It’s a big bummer,” Marsden said. “She’s competed well for us for two years but never had a complete preseason because of minor injuries. This year, she finally had a full preseason and was primed to have a breakout year. To get rewarded with that for a great preseason is a bummer.”

Unfortunately, the team has gone through situations like this before — they lost two All-Americans last year in Lothrop and Kailah Delaney — and knows how to deal with it.

“Definitely heartbreaking,” said Lopez’s fellow junior Tory Wilson. “She was going to have a fantastic year, and we are all sad about it, but we still have the rest of the season to go, and we need to not focus on that and move forward.”

Thrown into the fire

With the injury to Lopez, opportunity arose for three gymnasts to take her place in the three events she was scheduled to compete in. One of those was the Red Rocks’ lone freshman, Baely Rowe. Although the newcomer was expecting to compete in exhibition Saturday, she was thrown into the lineup on the beam — the event the team has put emphasis on during the offseason.

“I was really sad for Kass, but this gave me the opportunity to show my coaches that I was ready to do this and ready to compete,” Rowe said. “I just had to go out there and do what I do in practice. I had a couple of mistakes, but being my first time out there, I thought I did pretty well.”

Moving forward, Rowe is hoping she will stay in the lineup and help her team in whatever ways she can.

“Hopefully I can stay in, but it’s a week-in, week-out type of thing,” she said. “You compete for your spot.”

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