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Mackenzie Caquatto made her first competitive appearance last Friday since her injury at September's U.S. camp.

Friday January 27, 2012Mackenzie Caquatto On Way Back from Injury

Gainesville, Fla.

Mackenzie Caquatto made her first competitive appearance last Friday since her injury at September's U.S. camp.

By Mara Rudolph, UF Communications


When some students were planning road trips to Gator football games last fall, Mackenzie Caquatto was shuttling between Gainesville and Huntsville, Texas. Caquatto made her collegiate debut with the Gators last season, earning 10 event titles. But she was still active in the sport’s elite level, earning her fourth consecutive spot on the U.S. Senior National Team last August with her fourth-place all-around finish in the Visa Championships.


Caquatto traveled to the USA Gymnastics National Team Training Center to compete for a spot on the 2011 World Championships and Pan American Games teams. A strong showing at those meets could ultimately mean a chance to compete for a spot Caquatto’s dream team – the 2012 U.S. Olympic gymnastics team.


“Training was all about polish, consistency, being tight and hitting every single time you got up. We were working on our fine details so we could be at our peak when we got to Japan (for the World Championships),” she said. “I was having a really good training camp. I felt really prepared and I was ready to go and compete. Everything was going well and I couldn’t have asked for anything else.”


Caquatto was on the balance beam on the team’s first day of the second and final camp when she got the injury that has kept her sidelined since September.


“I had done one of the best beam routines in my life,” she said. “On my dismount, my hand slipped off my leg.”


The gymnast landed short on her double pike dismount, spraining and tearing ligaments in both her ankles in the process.


“I was so upset because I had worked the whole summer. It was something that I really wanted. I had really pushed myself and told myself that I wouldn’t look back in regret. I just wanted to say that I did everything that I could, which I did,” Caquatto said.


She went home for three weeks, where she took her UF classes on-line while in two boots and a wheelchair. When she came back to school, she found nothing but support that has continued on through the beginning of this season.


“The whole team was very supportive. They have been encouraging me, trying to help me get better,” Caquatto said. “It’s really nice to know that I have those people behind me and they’re wanting me to come back and do the best that I can.”


Though Caquatto loved cheering her teammates on during the first two meets, she was anxious to get back to competing.


“When I’m on the sidelines, I feel like I should be out there contributing. I don’t feel like I’m doing my job when I’m standing there injured,” she said. “Competing is the best thing about the sport for me.”


She made her return to the Gators’ competitive lineup last Friday at Kentucky, performing an uneven bars routine.


To get to the point where she could compete again, Caquatto attacked her rehabilitation regimen with same vigor as she does with training. Her rehab, which included meetings with her athletic trainer three times a day, physical therapy twice a week and a weekly chiropractor visit, has also taught Caquatto patience and helped to build her confidence.


“I hadn’t done gymnastics in three months, and I was still able to do it. That’s comforting to me. I was really worried when I first got injured that the skills wouldn’t be there and it would be really difficult,” she said. “When I came back, all my skills were still there. It was really nice to just jump back in there.”


Despite her progress, Caquatto has to remind herself to take time with her rehab so she can be properly healed by the season’s end.


“I want to be out there competing with the team every single weekend. It is so exciting. It’s what we live for, it’s what we do, and it’s why we’re here. But as much as I would like to get out there and compete on more events now, I’d rather be healthier and not hurting as much by the end of the season,” Caquatto said. “My mentality is just to get back as quickly as I can and be as healthy as I can, and be able to contribute to the team score in the long run.”


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