College notebook: Wonderly exhibits her recovery from elbow surgery

Sacramento State gymnast on road back from injury

By Kurt Zimmer, Columbian Sports Copy Editor and Writer



Kayla Wonderly's routine on balance beam Jan. 25 at San Jose State:

Staci Doucette, Linfield College softball

Kayla Wonderly’s routine on balance beam Jan. 25 at San Jose State:

Kayla Wonderly’s long road back has taken a big step forward

Eight months after surgery to repair her left elbow, the Sacramento State sophomore was back on a balance beam in front of a cheering crowd in a Jan. 25 dual meet at San Jose State.

It was “only” an exhibition — meaning her performance and the score of 9.725 awarded by the judges did not factor in meet scoring — but there was no “only” about it.

“I’d been practicing pretty well, and then the day before the meet, they called my name and told me that I was exhibitioning,” Wonderly said. “I was surprised. I had no idea what they were talking about. It’s kind of like a test to see if you’re ready to compete. The score I got was good enough that it would have helped the team in that meet, but it didn’t count.”

Wonderly, a La Center resident and graduate of CAM High School in Battle Ground who competed for Multnomah Athletic Club of Portland, hurt the elbow in January 2011 on the uneven parallel bars when she caught the bar wrong on a release move.

She continued to compete for more than a year — including representing the Hornets on bars, beam and vault during her freshman season a year ago — but it was decided after the season that something had to be done.

“It got pretty bad,” Wonderly said. “I had to wear a giant brace. After the season, my coaches and the trainers didn’t think it was safe for me to keep going. I went to a doctor, and we found out that the ligament was torn and completely detached from the bone, so I had to get surgery.”

In May 2012, Wonderly underwent the procedure commonly known as “Tommy John surgery” to repair the ulnar collateral ligament, which connects the humerus (upper arm bone) to the ulna (one of the bones of the forearm).

Soon after began the work of returning to competition.

“My gosh. Terrible,” Wonderly said to describe her rehabilitation. “I started a week after I had surgery. They had to start straightening it first. That was awful. After that, they started the strength and conditioning portion. It seemed long and hard, but I’m almost there, which is good.”

Wonderly was cleared in mid-January to compete on beam, and hopes that an April appointment will clear her for full return.

Sacramento State does not redshirt gymnasts, so this is a competition season for her no matter what happens, but Wonderly hopes to earn a spot in the Hornets lineup before long.

The Hornets’ next two meets are on the road, which Wonderly said makes it unlikely that she will be competing because she is only cleared on beam. The team brings 12 of its 18 gymnasts to away competitions, so lineup spots are more likely to go to those who compete in multiple events.

But if Wonderly’s coaches call her name again, she will be ready.

“I’ve been practicing well, but it’s not up to me, obviously,” Wonderly said. “I’m going to be ready in case they need me. I feel good. It’s been long and hard, but I think it’s been worth it. I can’t wait until I can do all my skills again.”

Linfield’s Doucette an Ad Rutschman finalist

Linfield College softball standout Staci Doucette makes it a clean sweep for Vancouver schools among the three nominees for the Ad Rutschman Small College Female Athlete of the Year Award.

Doucette, the 2011 winner of the award presented annually to an athlete representing an Oregon school not a member of NCAA Division I, is a graduate of Heritage High School. As previously announced, the other finalists are Keisha Gordon (George Fox University basketball, Heritage High School) and Junia Limage (Concordia University cross country and track, Fort Vancouver High School).

Doucette, who played first base, was a four-time NFCA first team All-American and one of the most feared hitters in the NCAA Division III.

During 2012, she hit .462 with 20 home runs and 65 runs batted in. She holds Linfield career records for batting average (.480), slugging percentage (.935), on-base percentage (.581), walks (120), games played and started (201). Doucette is also the NCAA Division III career leader for home runs (73) and RBI (259).

The Oregon Sports Awards, honoring the best and brightest in amateur and professional athletic achievement in Oregon over the preceding year, will be presented at Nike’s Tiger Woods Center.

The event, hosted by ESPN personality Neil Everett, will be presented Sunday during the 61st Oregon Sports Awards at Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton, Ore., and streamed live online.

The Rutschman Award is named in honor of the legendary Linfield football and baseball coach who led the Wildcats to three NAIA national football championships (1982, ’84, ’86) and an NAIA baseball title (1971).

Concordia’s Herman honored by CCC again

Concordia University junior Adam Herman, a Prairie High School graduate, was named Cascade Collegiate Conference Men’s Basketball Player of the Week for a second consecutive week.

Herman had 22 points and 12 rebounds in an upset of Northwest University, then 15 points and eight rebounds in a win over Evergreen State College.

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