Grace McCallum’s season may not be over. And if it is, she at least avoided the worst case scenario.
It was feared that the University of Utah gymnast suffered a serious season-ending knee injury last weekend at the Metroplex Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas.
Per Utah gymnastics — via Utah’s medical staff — McCallum “suffered a hyper extension of the right knee.”
Utah did not provide a timeline for McCallum’s return to competition, but acccording to Heathline, recovery from “a mild to moderate sprain following a knee hyperextension injury can take two to four weeks,” during which time, athletes are to “stop the activity that caused injury and... take a break from any high-intensity or high impact activities and avoid any contact sports. Gentle range of motion exercises are best at this time.”
Utah announced that it is taking a conservative approach with McCallum, in order to ensure “a safe and healthy return to play.”
“Once again, I’d like to thank everyone for the support and kind messages,” McCallum said in a media release. I will be focusing on the recovery process and doing everything possible to be back on the competition floor when it is safe and healthy for my body.
“As it was shown last weekend, I know my teammates will go out there and continue having each other’s backs no matter what happens. This team has a lot left to give and I can’t wait to see what the second half of the season has in store. Don’t count us out just yet!”
McCallum — who won a silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics — was injured while vaulting in Utah’s four-team meet against Georgia, Illinois and Illinois State last Saturday, a competition the No. 4-ranked Red Rocks easily won.
She injured her right knee when she attempted to land a Yurchenko 1.5, a 10.0 valued vault which she debuted this season.
After the meet, Utah head coach Tom Farden confirmed that McCallum was short on her landing, but neither he nor the rest of Utah’s coaching staff anticipated the injury happening.
“There was no indication,” Farden said. “It was just not a good landing. It is devastating.”
The loss of McCallum left Utah bereft at first, with Utah senior Jaedyn Rucker telling the Deseret News: “When she did go down, it is was obviously really sad. It was hard to feel what we needed to feel in that moment, but also turn the switch back on. We still had a meet and we were still on the first event. The vibe in that first two minutes was really down. We all thought, ‘What are we going to do?’”
A quick gathering of the team calmed the nerves and settled the emotions, though, enabling Utah to cruise to victory.
“Tom circled us up and told us, ‘OK, we’ve trained for this. You are on this event, you are on this event,’” Rucker said. “We made a quick switch and trusted each other. It wasn’t life and death. We were fine. In that moment we realized we were going to be OK, regardless of what happens (with Grace).”
Days later, the Red Rocks remain confident that they can survive the loss of McCallum, while simultaneously hoping for the best for their star sophomore.
“I do think we are really prepared,” fifth-year senior Cristal Isa said. “I was reading a lot of things on social media and it feels like a lot of people are really concerned about it. I don’t think it is going to be as big of an impact as some people think.
“It is sad, no matter what happens, though. (Injuries) are never a great thing.”