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The Journal Gazette

  • File Bishop Dwenger senior Elaine Cornewell suffered her first significant injury of her 14-year gymnastics career this month. While it shifted what she'll do for the Saints in the postseason, the experience provided opportunities for her teammates to grow.

Friday, February 23, 2018 1:00 am

Saint's spirit not hurt by injury

Gymnast returns after sustaining dislocated patellar

AUBREE REICHEL | The Journal Gazette

If you go

What: IHSAA gymnastics sectionals 

When: Saturday

Where: at Wawasee, 11 a.m.: Angola, Bremen, DeKalb, East Noble, Elkhart Central, John Glenn, Lakeland, Plymouth, Warsaw Community, Wawasee, West Noble, Westview

at Concordia, noon: Carroll, Bishop Dwenger, Bishop Luers, Concordia, North Side, Northrop, Snider, South Side, Wayne, Homestead, Huntington North, Jay County, Marion

It's not the senior season that Bishop Dwenger gymnast Elaine Cornewell hoped to have, but she's making the most of it.

After spending three to four days per week in the gym in the offseason, choreographing her floor routine and perfecting her skills, an injury changed the course of the upcoming postseason.

Cornewell dislocated her patellar this month after an awkward landing in floor exercise. It's the first significant injury of her 14-year gymnastics career.

“Recovery has been going pretty OK,” Cornewell said. “It's not as great as I would have hoped. I've never had a severe injury like this with not being able to practice or not being able to get into the gist of gymnastics has been really hard.

“I can do bars now, which is really exciting. I just started walking (Feb. 14). I was on crutches for a week and I've been walking for one week. I am throwing a bar routine (Wednesday), so recovery's fine. I'm just doing the best I can and it is what it is.”

The plan for Saturday's Concordia Sectional is for Cornewell to compete on the uneven bars and, with another week of recovery, compete on the balance beam (her favorite event) at next week's Huntington North Regional, where she hopes to improve on last year's 9.150 score, finishing 11th.

“I'm not really sure what it is about beam that I like,” she said. “I used to be pretty awful at it, and my dad would come to the meets with signs and tell me to stick my routines.”

She said she's gained confidence, which she adds is the biggest key.

“Since I've gotten to Dwenger, I learned how to be confident in my routines and confident on the beam,” Cornewell said. “The other (events), I'm sometimes nervous or worried about my skills, whereas on beam, I'm almost never nervous.”

Also this season, the Saints lost Jenna Farris to an injury for part of the season, requiring others to step up.

“The younger girls, especially, have to step up to replace my gymnastics,” Cornewell said. “We want to be able to maintain the same scores, or even just a little bit lower would be fine. That requires some of the younger girls to improve their routines. ... It requires them to pay attention to the mistakes they're making at practice and meets to improve on the scores.”

Cornewell medaled on floor at last year's state meet with a fourth-place finish and placed eighth in the all-around.

“She's super determined and an awesome captain,” coach Rose Nix said, “because, when (the injury) happened, she talked to the girls and said, 'You guys need to set goals and pick up the slack and get over that hump.' That happens in athletics in general. If one of your stars get hurt, you just have to deal with it.

“She's such a positive person, herself, that it was hard for the other kids not to be positive about the rest of the season. That's an attribute that Elaine has that not everybody has. Here she is hurt, unable to compete and she's still positive about things.”

areichel@jg.net