Around 7 p.m. on Jan. 15, the Owls were set to begin their uneven bar routines against defending Eastern College Athletic Conference champions, the College of William & Mary.
Sophomore Kerry Arone was in the midst of her warm-up ritual, prepping for what she thought would be her third meet of the season.
As she swung on the bar, preparing to transition into an overshoot, her left thumb got caught in the wrong position on the bar. Arone fell onto the mat, but got up.
When she looked down, she noticed she had dislocated her thumb, with two parts of the bone bent in opposite directions, leaving the thumb dangling.
“I just got up and started walking away like nothing happened,” Arone said. “Then I looked down and I saw my thumb and I like freaked out. Beforehand my thumb was bothering me so I guess after all this it’s not going to hurt anymore.”
Until that point, Arone competed in all four events for the Owls. She set a career high in vault with a 9.425 score in the team’s first meet of the season on Jan. 3 at Central Michigan University and earned a 9.675 on the bars at a Jan. 10 meet against Kent State University.
Sophomore all-around Gina Tucker has also been sidelined for the Owls.
Tucker prepared to compete in the team’s quad meet with West Chester University, Ursinus College and Centenary College on Jan. 29, but she had a lingering pain in her left foot which began around December.
Shortly prior to the meet, the Owls’ coaching staff received an X-ray of Tucker’s foot that revealed a stress fracture and a torn ligament.
“We don’t really know what exactly happened,” Tucker said of the injury. “It took a lot for myself to realize this is real because I never really had an injury that kept me out. But the team’s holding up well, and everyone that had to step up stepped up.”
Tucker had competed in vault, beam and floor for Temple. She posted a career-high 9.7 vault routine in Temple’s 190.15-190.05 win over the Tribe on Jan. 15.
“It wasn’t an injury that we had planned for,” coach Umme Salim-Beasley said. “When you prepare for a lineup to be a certain way and then have to make a change in the middle, it adds additional stress to the girls that they really don’t need.”
Arone is nearly one week into rehab for her thumb, and so far she has done simple motions like squeezing and stretching Silly Putty to help regain strength in the finger.
She is scheduled to begin doing gymnastics with her hand on the ground again Feb. 24 and will be allowed back onto the bars approximately one month from then.
Arone is also looking into the possibility of using this season as a redshirt year, which would grant her a fifth year of eligibility and the opportunity to start graduate school three years from now.
Tucker was scheduled to visit a doctor last Wednesday to begin finalizing a date for her surgery, which will be sometime within the month. She expects to be back to gymnastics activities around July.
“[The team] is able to handle last minute changes,” Salim-Beasley said. “With our bus situation it taught us to think quickly and change our thought process and control what we’re able to control. We can’t control if someone gets injured, but we can control preparing the next person to compete.”
Daniel Newhart can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @dannynewhart.