Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Not Always a Spring for Their Step

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Not Always a Spring for Their Step

Article excerpt

WEST MILFORD - Basketball hoops are 10 feet high, football fields 100 yards long, but gymnasts don't exactly know what to expect when they turn up at gyms in North Jersey.

And no two spring floors -- the padded mats with 6-inch springs underneath that help cushion gymnasts when they land, and help them take off -- are alike.

"Every spring floor has a different rebound and you have to get used to it," Wayne Hills sophomore Kristina Langan said. "The [takeoff] angle is different for every floor depending on how bouncy. Sometimes the floor is harder and I can go higher. Bars, some of them are bouncier, and you have to figure out the bounce so your routine can flow."

Figuring out how to maximize their skills and scores on such different sets of equipment - especially for floor exercise -- is vital to top gymnasts. And whether or not there's a link between gymnast injuries and having to constantly adapt is practically impossible to prove.

"No," Patriots coach Cathy Peter said about a possible link. "Many of the injuries I've come across are not equipment-related. We are above and beyond what the regulations call for at Wayne Hills."

Langan was not where she wanted to be Monday night. She was on crutches after suffering a torn adductor muscle in her groin and had to watch as the Patriots were upset by Wayne Valley for the Passaic County title.

Langan was on the spring floor, working on her leaps at Wayne Hills, when she first tweaked her groin muscle. She tried to gut through it, but heard the muscle pop at her club practice a few days later. She hopes to be back in four weeks.

The sophomore said the equipment at Wayne Hills is very good and she's been on much worse in other parts of the state.

If Langan returns to high school gymnastics next fall, not much is expected to change.

In Passaic County, three schools -- Clifton, Passaic Valley and Wayne Valley -- don't have spring floors. Storing the floor is a problem, and so is the cost of one (one website lists $2,500 for a 42 by 42 square). Wayne Hills and West Milford have the floors, hence the reason one of the schools usually hosts the county meet. …

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