Utah gymnast Kyndal Robarts knows first-hand how frustrating an injury can be. The sophomore had big ambitions for the 2009 season but had to put them on hold after injuring her shoulder in December.
"We all started in the summer working hard. We all had a goal and a mindset. … Then in December right before the season started I got hurt. The drive and seeing everyone do well is what made me want to come back, and because I really feel like this team is something special," said Robarts.
Well, the drive and a little boost from her coach.
"She was really discouraged early on and I needed her to refocus. I gave her a little kick in the seat and told her she's got to quit feeling sorry for herself because we need her. She took a big step tonight," said Ute coach Greg Marsden.
It was the second time this season Robarts has done three events; she will sit out the bars all year because of the injury. Her last three-event night at Utah State earlier in the month did not go as well because she fell on her opening pass on floor.
"I fell on my double Arabian," said Robarts. "When I hit tonight I was like 'Yes.' It gave me a lot of energy. We've been working on shortening my steps and changing things up a bit and it worked."
Robarts recorded a 9.875 in the event, just under her career high of 9.9.
She knows to keep her spot in the lineup she'll need to be at her best every week, especially on floor and vault. The Utes are ranked first in the nation in the two events, and Robarts' addition to the lineups means someone who helped earn those rankings has been bumped.
"I feel like everyone who trains on events could hit and do an amazing routine," Robarts said. "It's hard to work into the lineup but I think that makes us that much better. You have to work hard to keep your spot and it helps us push each other."
Robarts said she is feeling healthy and even has the pop back in her step.
"I just feel like flying is my thing; floor and vault are my best two events, so I can have some pop," she said.
The vault was also strong for the sophomore in Friday's win against Michigan. She recorded a 9.825 and then led off the beam with a 9.85.
"That's why Kyndal's there," said Marsden about Robarts' lead-off beam routine.
Robarts feels she is where she would be even if the injury hadn't happened.
"The preseason really helped me because I didn't get far behind when I had to take time off. I think I'm back. I just need to work on straightening my knees on beam and on a few more small things during our bye week," she said.
"I think the bye week will help us rest mentally and physically and then it's cool to finish the season at home with our next two meets. I am so excited because the home meets are so much fun with the crowd. You feel the energy."