As a native of Utah, Kim Tessen grew up knowing that competing for Utah’s gymnastics was a rare privilege, which is why the last few seasons have been a bit frustrating for her.
Her freshman year was cut short by an Achilles tendon injury, then came a shoulder injury that has limited her the last two years.
Finally, now that she is a senior, Tessen is healthy and ready to make the most of her senior year. She served notice with her performance in the opener, when she scored 9.9s on the vault and floor and 9.925 on the bars, that she intends to be a major player for the Utes.
“I’m still managing a couple things with my shoulder, but obviously it’s manageable,” she said. “The meet went really well and I was able to hit all my routines like I do them in practice which is always the goal.”
Growing up in Orem, Tessen imagined she would compete for BYU. However, coaching changes there, plus a spot open at Utah brought her to Salt Lake City.
Tessen has watched BYU’s recent improvement from afar and is eager to compete against the Cougars in the Best of the State meet on Saturday at the Maverik Center. However, she doesn’t regret the choice she made and considers herself a Ute through and through.
“You see all the fans and all the glory here, and it is an amazing thing to be a part of ,” she said.
KIM TESSEN AT A GLANCE
Vitals • 5-foot-1, senior
Hometown • Orem, Utah
Of note • Has hit 56-61 career routines with 12 9.9s or better…Two-time Pac-12 All-Academic…Starter on vault and bars as a junior…2nd-team All-Pac-12 Conference on vaunt in 2018…Missed the final 11 meets of the 2017 season with an Achilles tear…
Now that she is healthy, Tessen hopes to add to the team’s success by being a leader on and off the competitive floor.
“I remember when I was a freshman and looking up to the upperclassmen,” she said. “I want myself and the other team team captains to be an example because the have all been through it. We are a source of support for them.”
As a gymnast, Tessen has upgraded her uneven bars routine as well as some elements on the floor. Her vault is in solid form now too.
“In the past she was slowed by injuries and this time she had an entire preseason so that made a big difference,” Utah coach Tom Farden said. “We went into it with a different approach and made some changes. She is the one who wanted to keep pushing and had a lot of drive.”
A 2016 Junior Olympic National Team member, Tessen has produced some big scores despite injuries, mainly on the vault and bars. She went 25-of-27 in routines last year and had a career high 9.925 on the bars at the Pac-12 Championships.
This year she hopes to continue that success and break into the lineups more on beam and floor. Farden believes that can happen, especially with her improvement on the beam.
“She is 180 degree in difference,” he said. “There is a big difference in how she is approaching that event this year. I think the scores she earned are really reflective of her training she has done on all events.”
Tessen is happy with the start to the season, but she has been around long enough to not take anything for granted.
“I feel a lot more prepared than I have the last few seasons,” she said. “Being able to get everything together in November and December let me spread out the training and work on the details.”
BEST OF UTAH
Who • Utah, BYU, Utah State and Southern Utah in the inaugural in-state quad meet
When • Saturday, 7 p.m., Maverik Center