When Michigan women’s gymnastics coach Bev Plocki recruited freshman Kelsey Knutson, she saw first-team All-American talent in the three-time Iowa Gymnast of the Year.
But after arriving in Ann Arbor, Knutson had to play the waiting game.
After working hard during the fall, a back injury kept Knutson out of the team’s first three meets. For Knutson, not being able to perform was a huge disappointment.
“I was really anxious to get the year started, because our team was looking so good in the preseason,” Knutson said. “We had a lot of talent, we were all driven to be successful this year and we had high goals that we all wanted to achieve.”
So when senior captain Lindsey Bruck and freshman Jordan Sexton went down early with season-ending injuries, the Wolverines needed someone to step up, especially in Knutson’s premier events: uneven bars and balance beam.
But that someone wasn’t Knutson.
She was still waiting, still nursing her back.
Plocki knew the team would be better off with Knutson in the lineup and understood how hard it was for her to sit and watch the team perform. And with the injuries and the adversity the team went through, and is still going through, it made the wait even more difficult.
“It was very difficult to go through those couple meets and watch the team from the sidelines,” Knutson said. “I really wanted to be out there and contribute to the team because knew I had something to offer.”
Finally, her wait was over.
On Feb. 3, Knutson was healthy enough and Plocki put her into the lineup to compete on the balance beam. In her first collegiate event, Knutson scored a 9.875 – good enough for a third-place finish at the State of Michigan Classic. Knutson’s score on the beam was also the highest score on the apparatus for a Michigan gymnast this year.
“It was a great feeling this weekend coming back and being able to hit a routine that I knew I was capable of,” Knutson said. “It just feels terrific.”
Even without Knutson cracking the eighth-ranked Wolverines’ lineup, the beam and uneven bars were statistically their best events. With Knutson’s addition, the events could very well remain atop the Wovlerines’ r