By Dennis Mahoney
The high school gymnastics season didn’t last as long as Andrea Glaser hoped it would.
The Evanston sophomore --- who qualified in four events plus the all-around at the Illinois High School Association regional --- didn’t make it past the warmups Thursday night at the Niles North Sectional meet.
Glaser suffered an injury to her left ankle with an awkward dismount on uneven bars while loosening up for the actual competition, and had to watch in pain on a pair of crutches for the remainder of the night.
She missed out on an opportunity to become Evanston’s first state qualifier since 2000, when Jasmine Stone advanced as an all-around competitor.
Two other ETHS sectional qualifiers, juniors Clara Gruger and Shannon Fitzgibbons, placed 24th and 30th, respectively, with scores of 8.525 and 8.1 on vault.
Glaser’s mishap wasn’t all that unusual considering that injuries are a big part of the sport. But long-time Evanston coach Chester Jones couldn’t recall losing a player in warmups before.
“I guess it’s part of the game,” Jones sighed, “but we’ve never had this happen before. Not in warmups where it turns out to be a wasted trip for the (injured) girl.
“I just hope her ankle isn’t broken. It’s disappointing, but we couldn’t have pushed her to try to do anything when she couldn’t even walk. It seems like Andrea hurts her ankles every other week, she has to have therapy on her back, and she has some problems with her knees, too. But she didn’t miss a meet this year --- until tonight.”
Glaser, who has been a state finalist in club competition, dealt with the disappointment as best she could following a solid week of practice where she had added new tricks on almost every event.
“I was really hoping all those (new) tricks would help my score a little,” Glaser said. “This is the time of year to throw big tricks.
“Right now, of course I’m pretty mad --- but I’m OK. This year has been a pretty successful one for me and I still have two more years to go.”
The injury left Jones and the rest of the ETHS coaching staff wondering “what if?” Especially since Glaser improved so much from the start of the season that Jones still isn’t sure what her best event actually is.
“If she had hit on (balance) beam tonight, the way she was coming on in practice, she would have made it to State,” he said. “Her floor exercise was looking good, too. Right now I think those are her two best events.”