Utah gymnastics: Deetscreek a can't miss gymnast
What causes a gymnast to fall? It can be any number of things, from poor execution, to the distraction of a camera flash in the audience, maybe a goofy cramp in a toe or equipment failure such as a slipped grip.
At some point, no matter how great they are, gymnasts come tumbling down unexpectedly.
All of Utah's gymnasts have suffered such a mistake this season, all but one.
So far junior Jamie Deetscreek has avoided such an unplanned landing this season, hitting 44-for-44 routines.
Her last fall came at Washington last year on Feb. 16, giving her a streak of 57 consecutively made routines stretching over the past two seasons.
Her consistency puts her in reach of the school record of 63 straight routines, set by Suzanne Metz during 1994-95.
The last gymnast to threaten that mark was Ashley Postell, who hit 49 straight routines before falling on the uneven bars against Oregon State in 2008.
Deetscreek could break the record if she hits when Utah competes at the NCAA West regional championship Saturday in Seattle then again at the NCAA Championships. But qualifying for nationals more than going for a personal record is Deetscreek's biggest concern, she said.
"I'm not thinking about any specific routines or the streak," she said. "Everything has just fallen into place."
Gymnasts are a superstitious a group of athletes and even the thought of discussing Deetscreek's streak left Utah assistant coach Megan Marsden cringing.
"Do we really need to talk about it?" she asked, only half-kiddingly.
In reality, though, the Utes have confidence that Deetscreek's going to keep up her streak no matter what the situation.
Sure, odd things can happen and everyone makes mistakes, but Marsden acknowledged that Deetscreek is at a different level than most when it comes to consistency. For her career, Deetscreek has missed just three of her 71 attempted routines.
"Her success has had a snowball effect and it's catapulted her," Marsden said. "Not only is she consistent, but she is doing more difficult routines. She has had so much success now, it'd be hard for something to take her down. That doesn't mean she won't make a mistake, but hopefully she won't take her turn right now."
Consistency always has been a strength for Deetscreek, but she has improved by working harder on mental training with team psychologist Keith Henschen in addition to logging extra time in the gym.
"When she came in this summer, Jamie had a list of what she wanted to do and she'd go from event to event working through that list, then she'd get her stuff and go to class," Utah coach Greg Marsden said. "She was very organized and structured and she had a great plan and got it done."
Deetscreek uses little tricks, such as counting to eight throughout her beam routine, to keep herself from freezing during her routines. She also is more relaxed this season knowing she has earned a spot in the all-around unlike past seasons when she had to compete for the slots.
"It was always in the back of my mind, 'What if I'm not good enough to make the lineup this week,' " she said of the past. "Now I'm not nervous about that."
No reason to be nervous, when you know you're going to hit the routine.
Deetscreek has hit 44-for-44 routines this year, the only Utah gymnast who hasn't fallen. Here is how others have fared:
Gymnast, season, career
Jamie Deetscreek 44-for-44 68-for-71
Nina Kim 41-for-42 165-for-173
Stephanie McAllister 22-for-23 22-for-23
Kristina Baskett 42-for-44 201-for-217
Daria Bijak 34-for-36 115-for-121
Annie DiLuzio 24-for-26 91-for-96
Kyndal Robarts 16-for-18 44-for-47
Gael Mackie 25-for-29 36-for-40