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Injured Utah freshman Kara Eaker is nearing a return to competition

Eaker sprained her ankle during Utah’s season-opening meet against BYU, Utah State and Southern Utah.

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FILE - Kara Eaker competes in the floor exercise during the women’s U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Trials in St. Louis, in this Friday, June 25, 2021, file photo. A freshman at the University of Utah, Eaker is making progress after spraining her ankle at the season opening Best of Utah meet.

Jeff Roberson, AP

Kara Eaker is on the mend.

One of the star freshmen on Utah’s No. 2-ranked gymnastics team — she was a U.S. alternate at the Tokyo Olympics — Eaker was injured during the Red Rocks’ season opener at the Best of Utah.

She is, however, nearing a return to competition.

“Kara is doing good,” Utah head coach Tom Farden said. “I am personally heavily involved with her treatments and training. We are training her every day. She has (uneven) bars ready and can land in the (foam) pit.”

Eaker suffered a Grade 2 ankle sprain during warmups on vault at the Best of Utah and has missed three weeks of competition.

According to Harvard Medical School, a Grade 2 sprain means a partial tear of ligaments, accompanied by “moderate pain, swelling, and tenderness. Possible bruising. Mild to moderate joint instability. Some loss of range of motion and function. Pain with weight bearing and walking.”

Recovery time is usually between three to six weeks, and according to Farden, Eaker would be available to compete on bars when Utah takes on UCLA next Friday in Los Angeles.

“She is not in the bar lineup, but they told us that she could do and land a bar routine at the end of this week,” Farden said. “She is not in the bar lineup, so I am not going to do that, but she is doing really good.

“It is been three weeks, and now she is walking around with a boot. The next progression is probably more walking with a shoe and then competing gymnastics.”

Eaker competed on beam and floor in her collegiate debut at the Best of Utah and was expected to be a major contributor for the Utes this season given her international success at the elite level.

While missing time with injury, she has been nothing less than the ideal teammate, Farden said.

“What I am most impressed about with Kara is her attitude,” Farden said. “It is easy as a freshman of that caliber to feel sorry for yourself, and she is not.”