The Nebraska women’s gymnastics team’s second intrasquad meet was canceled this year.
That was fine with senior Kass Nathe, who has terrible memories from those December events.
She had to undergo Tommy John surgery after injuring her elbow at the intrasquad her junior year. Then, in what would have been her senior year, she tore her Achilles tendon the day after the intrasquad meet.
Nathe didn’t let either season-ending injury keep her from coming back for a fifth year. She’ll be one of three gymnasts honored Monday when No. 10 Nebraska (6-1, 4-1 Big Ten) celebrates Senior Night after its 6 p.m. meet with No. 24 Iowa (6-4, 2-4) at the Devaney Center. The other seniors are Janelle Giblin and Brittany Skinner.
“I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it after these two years,” Nathe said. “I didn’t want to give up on the team, either. It’s the kind of opportunity not everybody gets.”
Nathe competed as a freshman and sophomore, then was sidelined for two years. She called this her super senior year, and the three-time academic All-American is already working on her graduate degree in family financial planning.
Even when she was injured, Nathe made nearly every practice, meet and team function. But she’s thrilled to be actually contributing again in meets.
“There was never a doubt in my mind I was going to be back doing gymnastics,” she said.
Coaches set all kinds of smaller goals during her rehab to keep her focused. Nathe knew when she was able to sprint at 100 percent in June that she was ready to come back and finish her career.
She worked out an agreement with coaches to focus on the bars and the beam and stay away from the floor exercise and vault, which create more pounding on the body and joints.
She’s competed on the beam at every meet this year, starting with scores of 9.80 against Michigan and Michigan State to open the season. She had a 9.85 and won the event against Arizona. Nathe also is doing exhibition routines on the bar, where a deep lineup has knocked her out of the top six.
Her first-place finish was her best individual moment so far this season. But Nathe said it’s all about the team and she has high expectations for this group.
Still, Nathe got a little emotional at her first competition, thinking about how hard and long she had worked to make it back.
She’s a little worried about Monday, because she doesn’t know how she’ll react. If there are tears, though, that’s fine.
“It will be a good emotion,” she said.
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