clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

UTE GYMNASTS MENTALLY READY, UTAH SPORTS PSYCHOLOGIST SAYS

All last season, through all the Ute gymnastics team's turmoil and anxieties, U. of Utah sports psychologist Keith Henschen wasn't worried. When it looked like the Utes might unravel, especially after coach Greg Marsden pulled them off the BYU competitve floor in a dispute with the meet referee, Henschen said the 1994 Utes were mentally fit. He predicted all last season that Utah would add another NCAA team title. And he was right, though it wasn't an overwhelming victory.

As the Utes prepare to defend that title Thursday and Friday in Athens, Ga., against what could be the NCAA's strongest field ever, Henschen again has no worries about Utah's mental status."These are the kind of teams Greg wins with," says Henschen.

"They just seem to have that inner strength, when called upon, to do what's needed. There's a quiet undercurrent of determination," he says, not so focued on winning "but to perform to the best of their abilities.

"They're a neat bunch. Mentally stronger," he says, than last year. This year, we don't have any fragile people. There were some last year (and some of those athletes are still on the team, but they've made peace with their anxieties).

"A lot of this is good leadership from Suzanne Metz and Aimee Trepanier," Henschen says. Both lead by example more than cheerleading. And junior Sandy Woolsey provides "a quiet strength," Henschen adds.

Trepanier was told during fall workouts that her bulging spinal disc could end her career. She didn't start workouts until January and missed much of her final season's performances. She came back into the all-around two meets ago and scored 39.50 and 39.40.

Metz has been the epitome of competitive excellence. On March 25, she set the NCAA all-around record at 39.95, getting the first two 10s of her career on an emotional night (Senior Night/20-year Reunion Night).

On that night, Utah scored a school-record 197.175 and set an NCAA beam team reocrd (49.65). At the time, Marsden worried the club might have peaked on March 25, but Henschen didn't. "This team can do that," he says.

Metz was the top-ranked all-arounder and beamwalker on the final NCAA poll, is 48-for-48 in "hitting routines" this season and won 11 of 12 all-around competitions despite two-month bout with flu and sinus infection.