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Utah gymnastics: Collegiate gymnasts competing on borrowed time

The impact of training from an early age is felt by college gymnasts when they hit their 20s

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Still, there are always risks, and overuse injuries can’t always be prevented.

"A doctor explained it to me that there is an accumulated effect for all the micro-trauma they have over a long period of time," Greg Marsden said. "At some point, if you bend a coat hanger 100 times, it may snap."

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Comeback kids

More Utah gymnasts who used redshirt years during their careers:

Theresa Kulikowski » 2000 redshirt, lettered in 1999, 2001-03). Won the NCAA balance beam titles in 1999 and 2001 and all-around in 1999

Gritt Hofmann » 2002 redshirt, lettered in 2003-06. Earned All-American honors on the floor in 2005 and earned five victories as a senior

Beth Rizzo » 2006 redshirt, lettered in 2007-10. Became just second walk-on to earn All-American honors, doing so on the floor exercise in 2007

Kyndal Robarts » 2011 redshirt, lettered in 2008-10, ’12. Won the 2012 NCAA Regional floor title and earn first-team All-Pac-12 honors on the balance beam

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Additionally, gymnasts are performing tougher tricks now than they once did, adding to the strain on the bodies.

"When I was competing, we didn’t talk about sticking our events at all," said Megan Marsden, who competed for the Utes from 1981-84 and is now the Utes’ co-coach with her husband. "It was more about staying on the equipment. Now the focus is on sticking, and that is a lot harder on the bodies."

It all adds up to a sort of alarm clock in the gymnasts’ heads. At some point or another, it will buzz and their time is up. Many just hope that buzzer won’t go off until their senior year.

"It’s something you think about a lot," Lothrop said. "You want to keep competing, but you don’t know if your bones and your body will let you."


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