Utah gymnastics: Bone chips in ankle hindering Rizzo's comeback

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2009, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

When Beth Rizzo badly sprained her ankle in Utah's season-opening meet, at worst she thought she'd be sidelined for several weeks.

But weeks have turned into months, and likely could turn into the season for the junior.

Rizzo, who was performing a floor routine in exhibition at the time of the injury, is training only a few skills and is still a long ways off from being ready to compete.

The bone chips in her left ankle, which may or may not have been a result of the injury, are hindering the healing process while the swelling is limiting her range of motion, she said.

"Range of motion is almost everything in gymnastics so it's hard," she said. "Coming back from injury, it's almost the worst part now. I am able to do some things and get a taste of it and I want to do more, but I can't push it that fast."

The Utes, who have a bye this week, have just three regular season meets remaining, beginning with a home meet March 6 against Arizona State.

Utah coach Greg Marsden said they've discussed the possibility she might not compete this season.

"It's a tough situation," he said. "We don't know when she is going to be 100 percent and when she reaches that point, do you take the chance in mixing things up in the lineup?"

The growing possibility that she won't compete this season hasn't stopped her from working hard, Marsden said.

"Fitness wise, she's probably in the best shape of her life because she's working hard and she's working with our strength trainer every day," he said. "It's really a matter of what that ankle can tolerate in her workouts."

Around the state

BYU's season is going from bad to worse. The Cougars, who host SUU Friday, have five gymnasts who have suffered season-ending injuries or illnesses. Co-captain McKell Poulson-Merkley, Holland Davis and Natalie Eyre were lost earlier in the season. A week ago, Megan Donehue suffered a season-ending ankle injury and Krysten Koval had to have an emergency appendectomy over the weekend. Both were competing on every event but floor.

The uneven bars lineup is affected the most, where the Cougars were planning to use just five gymnasts, before the loss of Donehue and Koval.

SUU continues to have the highest average of other instate schools with a 193.075 RQS to rank 35th best out of 80 schools. Utah State's is 191.965 (44th) and BYU is 51st (190.685).

The Aggies compete at Sacramento State along with Boise State Friday. Heather Heinrich, who missed the last meet because of illness, isn't expected to compete Friday.