Alyssa Click’s senior season was off to a great start.
Although her Southern Utah University gymnastics team dropped a season-opening Jan. 6 dual at UCLA, the Skyview High School graduate won the balance beam event with a score of 9.875, led the Thunderbirds on uneven bars with a 9.850 to place fourth, and also scored 9.600 on floor exercise.
The Bruins — then ranked No. 2 in the nation, now No. 4 after previously topping the rankings — won the dual at Pauley Pavilion, 196.150-194.875.
Disaster struck for Click 11 days later when she suffered a season-ending knee injury — a torn anterior cruciate ligament — while training on floor in preparation for a Jan. 19 quad meet in Salt Lake City with Utah, Oregon State and West Virginia.
“It was a pretty good practice before it happened,” Click said in an online interview. “I tore my ACL on my first (tumbling) pass, which is a front double twist on the floor. It really sucks because I warmed up my passes so great and effortless. During the routine, I twisted too early and landed short. I felt my right knee pop out and back in.
“At first I thought I dislocated it or something like that. My trainer and coach came running over as I laid there holding my knee. It was so painful! I had to roll from my side to my back and relax. Who thought that would be a difficult task? Until then, I didn’t. My back and hip wouldn’t relax.”
She was carried to the side of the gym and iced the knee for the rest of practice as her teammates reassured her.
“My teammates came up to me and let me know I had their love and support,” Click said. “To be honest, I felt like I let them down. And it really hit hard with how we struggled during the meet and there was nothing I could do about it. Cheering is all I have now to be there for them, and to help with pre-meet hair and makeup. Ha ha.”
Click, who trained at Multnomah Athletic Club in Portland, was particularly looking forward to the Utah meet and an Oregon State team that includes two former club teammates and other gymnasts she competed against during club days.
Michael Chernoch, another SUU senior, injured an ankle during the same practice as Click’s knee injury and competed in the meet, but suffered two falls as the team finished fourth.
The season, of course, continues for the team known as the Flippin’ Birds without Click, who is two-time defending Western Athletic Conference champion on bars and was an NCAA regional individual qualifier last year on beam.
SUU won a three-team meet with Utah State and Hamline University of Minnesota last Friday. The home opener in Cedar City is a Friday dual against Utah State.
Click will have her senior season again next year after taking a medical redshirt for this season. Her surgery was to take place Wednesday. As disappointed as she is now, she is looking forward to her eventual return to competition.
“I am excited because we are getting some solid freshman in and the sophomores soon to be juniors will be seasoned and experienced collegiate athletes,” Click said.
“A torn ACL is a 6- to 9-month recovery and I am scheduled for surgery on Wednesday. This road to recovery is going to be hard and will definitely test my patience. I am doing this for me because I just can’t let this be my last year in gymnastics. I have gone through so much for this sport and I had such high expectations for myself this year. I can’t not come back next year.”
Honor for Bottelberghe
Boise State sophomore Jessica Bottelberghe was named Mountain West Swimmer of the Week for meets contested Jan. 22-27, the conference announced Wednesday. It is the first such honor of Bottelberghe’s career.
Bottelberghe racked up four individual event wins and two more relay victories during Boise State’s weekend trip to Colorado.
She won the 100- and 200-yard freestyle races Friday, at Denver, in addition to helping the Broncos’ 400-yard freestyle relay team to victory. The next day at Colorado State, she won the 100 freestyle and added a victory in the 200-yard individual medley. The sophomore also led off the wining 200-yard medley relay team.
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