Columbia- Saturday was the first time Megan Nordhues competed in the Show-Me State Games. It was the first time she had competed in the same arena as the MU gymnastics team. It was also her first meet since a potentially career-ending injury.
“I missed the adrenaline rush,” Nordhues, 17, said. “So to get that back today is pretty exciting.”
In March of 2006, Nordhues was warming up on beam, her first event at a regional competition in Lincoln, Neb. But one wrong landing on the event caused her right anterior crucial ligament to tear.
“It was devastating to see,” her coach, D.J. Hunting of Xtreme Gymnastics in Lee’s Summit, said. “Megan doesn’t fit the mold. She’s not your typical gymnast. She may not be the most gifted or talented kid, but she’s got the heart of a champion. So it was really difficult to see her in the situation.”
Nordhues had reconstructive surgery to repair her torn ACL. The following down time causes many gymnasts to turn to more teenage social activities. But Nordhues, with the support of her family, friends and coaches, made the decision with ease. She stuck with the sport she loved.
Her coach said she trained every day during her recovery, so she could return to competitive gymnastics.
“She never missed a day. Not one,” Hunting said. “(In the beginning) she could only do sit-ups, leg lifts. Nothing that’s fun, but she stuck with it. And that speaks volumes. As a coach, I’ve learned that it’s not the most talented superstar that you’ll miss the most. It’s the ones who constantly give 100 percent, and Megan does that.”
Nordhues, a level 9 gymnast who attends Liberty High School, returned to competition Saturday in the Show-Me State Games. The meet was held at the Hearnes Center and included participants in level 4 through level 8/open, in age groups of 8-and-under through 14-and-over.
The top three finishers in each of the four events (vault, bars, beam and floor) qualify for the State Games of America. The Olympic-style games are held every other year, so participants in this weekend’s competition qualify for the 2009 State Games of America.
“If they get a medal, they qualify,” Zina Fudge, director of the meet said. “It doesn’t matter if they move up in a level by that time, they are still qualified.”