Just hours before West Virginia was scheduled to host a quad meet last Sunday with No. 1 Florida and East Atlantic Gymnastics League opponents New Hampshire and George Washington senior gymnast Amy Bieski was not sure she would be able to compete.
Bieski, who suffered a dislocated elbow prior to arriving at West Virginia, woke up last Thursday and could not move her arm.
“It hasn’t given me too many problems in the past, but I woke up and it was locked up,” said Bieski. “I couldn’t bend it or straighten it. It was swollen up.”
The native of Nanticoke, Pa., did not practice with the Mountaineers on Thursday or Friday, undergoing treatment with her athletic trainer instead. Bieski had treatment times on Saturday when the team had the day off, but the swelling was still pretty bad and she was thinking competing Sunday would be tough.
Head coach Linda Burdette-Good sent Bieski a text to check in on Saturday.
“She sent a text back, saying she was just fine and doing well, which was not the truth,” said Burdette-Good. “But she didn’t want to me to worry. I actually had a good night’s sleep, and then I walked in and saw our trainer.”
The coaches expected Amy to be on the sidelines on Sunday, and were planning an alternate lineup.
“Amy isn’t someone who is easily replaced, but we were doing our best to have someone else ready if she wasn’t able to compete,” said Burdette-Good.
But when Bieski woke up Sunday morning the swelling had gone down, and she wanted to compete. She just had to convince her trainer.
“I had to prove to my athletic trainer that I was capable of competing, so she put me through a number of functional tests and taped it up really well before I warmed up,” said Bieski.
In warm-ups Bieski was getting funny looks from her teammates because her timing was off due to the cast-like taping of her left arm.
“She was really shaky the first couple of events because her taped arm was a little heavier,” said Burdette-Good. “In gymnastics, that makes a difference. You can be thrown off pretty easily. She adapted well and competed, and had an amazing competition.”
“My coaches have confidence in me,” said Bieski. “I’m a senior and have done these routines numerous times. I had to stop thinking about my arm and go out and compete for our team.”
Incredibly, Bieski posted a career-best 39.325 in the all-around competition, edging out a narrow victory against one of the nation’s top all-arounders — Ashanée Dickerson of Florida. It was her best all-around score since 2008, while she also notched a career-high 9.875 on the uneven bars for a second-place finish. She was name EAGL Gymnast of the Week for her performance.
“I didn’t put a lot of high expectations on myself when performing because I knew I didn’t work out Thursday, Friday or Saturday,” said Bieski. “I think that actually helped me.”
Bieski’s all-around score also fueled the Mountaineers to a team season-high score of 195.225, which put them back in the national rankings at No. 24.
“We’re moving in the right direction, and as a coaching staff, that’s what you hope will happen,” said Burdette-Good. “You hope you continue to build and improve, and set yourself up for good placement at regionals, and give yourselves a chance to advance. Having Amy back in the mix makes that a lot easier than we looked at the possibility of her not being able to compete.”
The senior is one of only eight gymnasts in WVU history to compete in the all-around 43 times or more, and she looks forward to continue moving up that list.
“I only have a couple more meets in my career, so just I’m just trying to contribute and do the best that I can,” said Bieski.
West Virginia hosts North Carolina on Feb. 26 in an EAGL match-up. The Tar Heels are also coming off a season-best score following a win against Pittsburgh last weekend.
Need to Know
• If you checked this week’s national rankings, you could be wondering, “Where is Utah?” Despite coming off a 196.425-195.425 home victory against then-No. 8 Michigan last week, the previously No. 3 Utes are not in this week’s rankings because they do not have the required three road scores for the new ranking calculation (regional qualify score or RQS). The RQS is derived from taking a team’s top three road scores plus their next three highest scores, dropping the highest of the six and then averaging the remaining five scores. Utah has just two road meets thus far this season, but will hit the road on Feb. 25 at Utah State. The Utes will return to the rankings in next week’s edition.
• Competing at home for the first time in six weeks, UCLA registered its highest score of the season (197.475) in a win versus NC State on Monday afternoon. The Bruins posted seven scores of 9.9 or better, and Syndey Sawa claimed her first all-around victory as a Bruin, scoring a career-best 39.274. Sawa, a freshman from Calgary, Alberta, also tied teammate Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs for first place on the floor exercise.
• Junior Geralen Stack-Eaton claimed four of five individual titles in Alabama’s victory against Kentucky in Southeastern Conference action last weekend. The native of Horsham, Pa., posted career-best scores on the balance beam and uneven bars with 9.925s, as well as a 39.675 in the all-around, earning her SEC Gymnast of the week honors. Stack-Eaton’s all-around score is tied for the highest in the country this season, and boosted the Crimson Tide to the nation’s fourth-best score of the season at 197.275.
• Third-ranked Oklahoma hits the road for the sixth time this season as the Sooners travel to No. 8 Michigan on Feb. 26 for their final regular season away meet. Four of Oklahoma’s five highest scores this season have come on the road, including the team’s season-high mark of 197.225 in a win at Iowa State on Feb. 11. The Sooners trail only No. 1 Florida in road score average with a 196.410 this season.
• The University of Denver jumped seven spots to No. 12 in the latest national rankings with a RQS of 195.245 after upsetting then-No. 10 Nebraska in a come-from-behind 195.850-195.725 victory on Feb. 19. After counting a fall on the uneven bars, the Pioneers went 6-for-6 on both beam and floor, recording a season-high score on the floor exercise to edge the Huskers.
• Georgia posted its highest road score of the season with a narrow 196.500-196.350 win at LSU on Feb. 18, moving to No. 4 in the national rankings. The Gym Dogs have scored a 49.0 or higher on each of their last nine rotations.
Boise State’s Hannon Redmon collected her third Western Athletic Conference Specialist of the Week award after winning the vault title with a season-best 9.925 in a dual meet against Utah State last weekend. Redmon now has 18 first-place finishes on the vault, which ranks second all-time in vault victories at Boise State.
• Penn State vaulted eight spots to No. 10 in the latest national rankings to make its first appearance in the top-10 during the regular season since 2006. Junior Natalie Ettl leads the Nittany Lions with a No. 1 ranking on the uneven bars with a RQS of 9.895, while sophomore Sharaya Musser ranks third in the nation on the vault with a 9.895 RQS.