When an ankle injury forced Alyssa Long into a walking boot earlier this year, she wondered just how viable her chances were of qualifying for the trampoline and tumbling world championships in Bulgaria.
At times, Long – a junior at McHenry – worried that the torn ligaments may keep her from performing at her best at last weekend’s world trials in Florida. And although her situation was a bit different, Erin Jauch knew exactly how Long felt.
Jauch, a 2012 Crystal Lake Central graduate, pulled her groin three weeks ago – an injury that kept her from preparing as she would have liked for a qualifying event that could help send her back to the world championships.
Despite their respective setbacks, Long and Jauch – both members of the U.S. tumbling and trampoline national team – persevered. Jauch, 18, finished second in the senior division championships, and Long placed third in the junior age group division, earning both a spot on the U.S. world team.
Long and Jauch will compete in the double minitrampoline. Both said, because of their injuries, advancing onto Bulgaria brought a sense of relief.
“Training for this competition was a little bit rough and bumpy,” Jauch said. “It was definitely an unfortunate time for an injury to come about. But I had no other choice other than keep pushing and training.”
Long, 16, also had her anxious moments while recovering from the ligament tear she suffered during a fall. She was forced to back off her training, hoping not pushing herself as hard would bring her close to full health once the world championship qualifier in Daytona Beach rolled around.
Despite not being at 100 percent last weekend, Long did enough to earn one of the four spots on the United States’ world championship contingent.
“It was just really rewarding to reach the goal after such a hard year,” said Long, who finished up her physical therapy for her ankle last week. “It’s a really big relief because there were times when I doubted myself during the season. I was really down because I thought (the injury) would really hamper the whole season.
“But it still really hasn’t sunk in that I’m going (to Bulgaria) and that I made it. It’s just been such a whirlwind.”
Long and Jauch said while they’ll still battle a case of the nerves once they reach the world championships later this fall, they’re each better prepared. Jauch, who has been a member of the world team for the past five years, said she knows what kind of competition she’ll face against the world’s best.
She also said she’ll also be ready for what can be a stressful environment – an aspect of big-time competition that Jauch said can throw competitors off their game if they’re not fully prepared for the world championship stage.
“I definitely know what to expect more,” Jauch said. “I know the crowd is basically going to be packed and I know with the big cameras that follow you, I’m more prepared to recognize that stuff so I won’t be as shocked by it. But your nerves are what you really need to control.”