Poggemeyer finds success after pain

Injuries run in the family for Tenli Poggemeyer.

Her cousin was a promising gymnast at Arizona State when an injury caused her to retire prematurely.

So when Poggemeyer fell awkwardly on her knee while competing in the club nationals two years ago, she feared the worst. Even though her doctors told her she could continue, she was not quite completely healed. And her original fears were reinforced last year when the UA doctors told her she had severe knee damage and would need surgery.

"It was a weird experience," said Poggemeyer, a 5-foot-1 freshman from Scottsdale. "Coming into my freshman year, I had hoped that I could contribute. But when the doctors told me I had blown out my knee, I knew I would have to sit out."

But she was not content with sitting out.

"It was my first real injury, so I didn't really know what rehab would be like," she said. "But watching the team and seeing how much fun they were having motivated me."

And through her hard work and countless hours in rehabilitation, she managed to break into the all-around this season as a redshirt freshman. But her hard work was one of the reasons UA coach Jim Gault pursued Poggemeyer.

"When we first saw Tenli, we knew that she had a lot of experience and that she was a great athlete," Gault said. "But what impressed us the most was her work ethic and desire to want to do very well."

But Arizona was not the only school that had interested Poggemeyer.

"I looked at Washington and Nebraska, and was going to take a trip to UCLA before I decided on Arizona," she said. "I loved the coaching staff here and the school is a great one academically."

Poggemeyer not only works hard in gymnastics, but also in her studies she often spends her free time in the McKale Center study halls.

"Most of my studying is done on my own time," Poggemeyer said. "Sometimes it's tough to come home and sit down and study before an important meet or after a tough practice, but you just have to do it."

And all her hard work paid off in the Wildcats' first match against Washington Jan. 13. She finished third overall in the all-around with a score of 38.150 and second on the beam with a 9.70.

But Poggemeyer is not content to just stay at the level she is at now.

"My performance was inspiring because I know that there is still some room for improvement," Poggemeyer said.

But one area Gault thinks might be the most demanding for Poggemeyer is just getting back into the flow.

"She is working hard to improve her routines, but it probably will take her awhile to get her body adjusted to the pounding involved in such a demanding sport," Gault said. "But we are glad to have Tenli back. She is the type of athlete everyone wants."

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