Iowa gymnast Alberhasky set for 2013 return from injury


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In November 2011, Iowa gymnast Lance Alberhasky was going through his usual preparation for the NCAA season. While practicing his floor exercise, he attempted to take off for a double full — something he’d done a thousand times before.

Without warning or a history of injury, a sharp pain shot down his left leg. Doctors later determined that his Achilles tendon was torn and surgery was needed, and he took a redshirt for the season.

What followed was a long and rigorous rehab process that challenged Alberhasky both physically and emotionally. After surgery, he spent a few months on crutches, followed by time in a walking boot.

“By the time I moved into the boot, my leg had shrunk up and there wasn’t any muscle there anymore,” he said. “It was a long process of getting the muscle back and just being able to use my leg again.”

By most accounts, the injury was a freak accident. He didn’t have any pre-existing health issues at the time. And his coaches said the accident occurred while he was performing a simple skill he’d been doing for 15 years.

Alberhasky, though, took responsibility for the accident.

“I think it was my preparation and maybe a little bit of laziness at the time,” the sophomore said. “I was not being efficient enough in the gym and wasn’t following [head coach JD Reive’s] program enough. If you skip numbers, it can make you more injury prone.”

Reive’s training program was met with some resistance when he first arrived at Iowa because of its meticulous and methodical nature. Hawkeye gymnasts admit to being skeptical of it at first. But those who buy into it have been rewarded with national recognition.

Senior Anton Gryshayev is a prime example. The Littleton, Colo., native was recently placed atop the polls nationally on the still rings, and he remains there to this day.

“Over the years, people started to realize that you have to adapt to it completely,” he said. “Until you take his program to the max and follow it to a tee, you won’t actually see the results.”

Reive was impressed with Alberhasky’s ability to be open about his injury and take full responsibility. In addition, he lauded the athlete for his consistent dedication to his training regimen since being hurt.

“I’m proud of him for being open and honest — that’s one of the things we’re trying to teach them,” Reive said. “It’s a good step that he can say that out loud. It’s part of the maturing process. And right now he’s probably the most diligent and follows the training better than anyone else.”

This season, Alberhasky has been one of the best all-around competitors for the Hawkeyes. This past weekend he finished third in the high bar and fourth in the all-around in No. 8 Iowa’s 422.750-419.450 victory over No. 6 Minnesota.

The Iowa City native gives credit to everyone who helped him while he was injured for his success this season. The injury itself though, he said, could end up being the biggest help of all.

“I’d say through the process, the injury was probably one of the best things that could have happened in my career,” Alberhasky said. “The whole mindset of it has really pushed me along and made me realize the importance of efficiency.

“I really feel as if it has made me a better gymnast.”

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