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Utah's fifth-ranked gymnastics team has suffered its first big loss of the season.
Sophomore Sabrina Schwab has been diagnosed with a torn anterior cruciate ligament after suffering a knee injury in Tuesday's practice.
Schwab was the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year and an NCAA All-American on the seven bars in 2016. She was off to a great start this season, scoring a career high in the all-around with a 39.3 at BYU on Friday and hitting all eight routines. She is 34-of-34 in made routines for her career.
"It is hard because she is such an incredible athlete who has worked so hard," Utah coach Megan Marsden said. "It is hard to see any athlete go down like this because they work hard to be ready for one of the biggest stages of their career and it is just a tough scenario to deal with for the whole team."
The Utes, who host No. 7 Denver, No. 15 Boise State and Illinois-Chicago on Friday, do have some depth this season. The Utes already were planning to use freshman Missy Reinstadtler on Friday in the beam and floor lineups to see how she responds to the competition environment. Reinstadtler was scheduled to replace Schwab on the beam and senior Baely Rowe on the floor.
Rowe has changed the middle pass in which she suffered a fall on floor at BYU and will go back into the lineup, Marsden said.
The Utes are still considering replacements for the vault and uneven bars. Marsden said Kari Lee, who suffered a torn Achilles tendon in 2016, has been pushing the vault and floor lineups in practice.
"We have a lot of depth," Marsden said. "The hard thing is Sabrina falls into that category of having a good reputation on the collegiate scene and it is a sport where all judges are different, but it does help if they have heard about you. The good news is it is early and as we always say, one tragedy becomes someone else's opportunity to step up."
The Utes definitely have experience in this realm, suffering at least one season-ending injury to a key gymnast every year since 2013. That year, Corrie Lothrop tore her Achilles' tendon, an injury that was suffered by Kassandra Lopez in 2014, Tory Wilson in 2015 and Lee in 2016.
"It seems like a lot, but it isn't anything other programs don't deal with too," Marsden said. "It is a tough sport and we are dealing with older gymnasts at this level and sometimes the bodies just don't hold up to all the repetitions. It is difficult to see someone who has worked so hard go down with something like that."
Marsden said Schwab suffered the injury performing a move on the balance beam when her knee twisted in, then out.
The one positive to the injury is the timing. Since it is early in the season, the Utes are confident Schwab will be awarded another year of eligibility, just as Lee was last year.
"We will start that process, but right now we are more concerned with Sabrina," Marsden said.
P No. 5 Utah vs. No. 7 Denver, No. 15 Boise State, and Illinois-Chicago
At the Huntsman Center
Friday, 7 p.m.