If everything goes according to plan, injured freshman Kara Eaker will, at the least, be available to compete for Utah’s gymnastics team this postseason.

That was the latest update from Utah head coach Tom Farden on Thursday during an appearance on Out of Bounds with John Roethlisberger and Alicia Sacramone.

Eaker, a U.S. alternate at the Tokyo Olympics, suffered a Grade 2 ankle sprain during Utah’s season opener against BYU, Southern Utah and Utah State at the Best of Utah competition on Jan. 7, and has missed the five subsequent meets.

According to Farden, Eaker is making steady progress toward a return to action, and sharp-eyed observers may even see her participating in open warmups this weekend against Oregon State or Monday night at Washington.

“(Kara) is doing great,” Farden told Roethlisberger and Sacramone. “Yesterday she was on the treadmill, so we are working range of motion. She is back on trampoline. She is inching towards getting a little closer. Don’t be surprised if she warms up a little bit more this weekend.

“If it all goes to plan — and with injuries that is the thing you don’t know — but if it all goes to plan, she’ll be back for the postseason.”

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Following Utah’s victory over Stanford on Jan. 29, Farden told assembled media that Eaker had been approved to compete on uneven bars, if needed, but she still had a ways to go on balance beam and floor exercise, events that are significantly harsher on the ankle.

“On floor, (landing) triple fulls is a big snap down,“ Farden said, “and balance beam requires a lot of strength in the ankle.”

Eaker’s injury and recovery was already notable given her elite status, but after junior Jillian Hoffman tore her Achilles tendon during floor warmups against Cal, Eaker’s return would be a boon to a Utah team that will see its depth tested with three meets — home against Oregon State and on the road at Washington and Arizona — over an eight-day period.

Traditionally, Grade 2 ankle sprains require 3 to 6 weeks of recovery time, and Eaker has been out of action for five weeks, going on six.

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