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Corrie Lothrop's reintroduction to Utah fans didn't go exactly the way she had hoped. The senior face-planted on the uneven bars during Utah's Red Rocks preview on Friday.
The mistake wasn't enough to knock the smile off her face, though. Lothrop savored being back on the competition floor. As far as she and probably Utah fans are concerned, she's been away way too long.
The five-time All-American is getting back into the swing of things, so to speak, after tearing an Achilles tendon warming up for the floor exercise in February against Arizona State.
The injury was a disappointing and abrupt way for her season to end. Lothrop was off to an excellent start, hitting all 15 of her season routines, earning three event wins and scoring 9.85 or higher in nine of her performances.
But instead of competing for another round of All-America awards and possibly more, Lothrop became a fixture not on the awards stand but in the training room. She rehabbed for several months.
Lothrop had been through the process before, having torn her other Achilles while she was in high school, but the past experience didn't make it any easier.
"Watching and not being able to help the team physically killed me," she said. "I could be a mentor and talk to the girls beforehand, but to not be able to do a bar or floor routine, or whatever they needed, was really hard."
This year Lothrop hopes to help out a team that struggled in her absence last year, finishing ninth in the NCAA Championships.
The 2012 Pac-12 all-around champion, Lothrop built a reputation as being one of Utah's most consistent gymnasts, hitting 112 of her 115 career routines, as well as being a strong leader.
"Having her back is huge for us," Utah coach Greg Marsden said. "She has worked hard to get back and so far she has held up well. There have been a few scares as she has worked through scar tissue, but so far things have been positive."
Achilles injuries are challenging for gymnasts to overcome because the area is aggravated when gymnasts push off their feet such as when vaulting or are tumbling on the floor.
While her recovery has gone well, Lothrop may not perform on the floor this year.
"There is a lot of micro-trauma that happens to the area when they push off the floor," Marsden said. "We'll keep working it, but we won't do it at the expense of pushing too hard and risk losing her for the season."
Dealing with aches and pains is nothing new for Lothrop, or most gymnasts. But there was a point last year when she didn't know how much more she wanted to take.
Since her injury occurred so early in the season, the Utes were able to apply for a medical hardship for her to get a fifth year. But it wasn't until the Pac-12 Championships that Lothrop decided she wanted to not only compete this season, but next year as well.
"It's really all up to my body and how it feels," she said. "I'm hoping it doesn't deteriorate and I can get another year out of it."
But before she can think about 2015, Lothrop wants to get through the 2014 season. Unlike last year, the Utes are deep on most events and have a lot of experience in their lineups.
That situation should take some of the pressure off Lothrop, although she isn't taking any pressure off herself.
She was able to laugh off that mistake on the uneven bars, noting she felt like a freshman competing again, but she is determined to have a good season.
"It's been awhile since I've competed in that arena," she said. "But that is why you have events like that, to get the nerves out. I'll be ready the next time."
Utah Gymnastics opener
Jan. 11 vs. SUU, BYU and Boise St.
Corrie Lothrop file
5-foot, Sr., Danvers, Mass.
Of note: Voted a co-captain for the second year in a row. … Has hit 112 of 115 career routines. … Three-time academic all-conference. … Pac-12 all-around champion and Utah's 2012 co-MVP. … Health promotion and education major.