All around, young Buckley stickin’ it

 

 

By Daniel Johnson

Right now, a lot of things are on Allison Buckley’s mind.

The freshman from Schaumburg, Ill., is starting just her second semester on campus and is already excelling in the gym. Buckley won the floor, vault and all-around categories in the team’s loss to Ohio State last Saturday.

“I really didn’t make any major mistakes, which is obviously what we’re going for,” Buckley said.

Performing in the all-around category is just another wrinkle in her freshman year experience, and the extra responsibility has placed more pressure on the young gymnast; she and sophomore Nicole Cowart have been the only women so far to compete in the category. The all-around category is an entirely individual honor, as it has no bearing on a team’s point total, but the added demand of jumping from apparatus to apparatus can take a mental toll on a gymnast.

“It’s a little mind-boggling because every event is so different,” Buckley said. “But if you think about every event being so different it’s like starting something new. It’s really not that bad, as long as when you go from one event to another you leave one behind.”

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The challenge for Buckley, it would seem, is tempering her emotion in events. Do poorly in one, and it might throw off her game for the rest of the meet. The mental challenges and emotional swings of the sport are something Buckley is very aware of.

“You just have to learn to block it out and know that the last event didn’t matter,” Buckley said. “Of course it matters, but it shouldn’t affect the next event. Mentally, of course, (if you don’t do well in one event) it’s going to set you down and make you upset,” she said.

But with the negative swings that come from a fall off the balance beam, or a humbling face-first drop onto a mat from the uneven bars, comes the added poise that results from getting an event-winning score in the vault, as she did Saturday.

“I think it works more that way. If you hit one event, you think that you’re going to do well, it makes you more confident,” Buckley said.

Even the possibility of substantial mood swings are not enough to make her shy away from the challenges she has faced so far.

Rather, it is a responsibility that head coach Bob Starkell told her about when they first met, and it is something that she relishes.

“Talking to Bob on my recruiting trips, he had always said that I could play a big role,” Buckley said. “But I think that everyone can play a big role, it’s just whether or not you take advantage of it, and so far I have been able to.”

Outside of the gym, Buckley was planning on going into the athletic training field, but due to University policy, athletes cannot do both at the same time – just adding to the things that Buckley is now dealing with.

Even though she might have a bit more on her plate right now than she expected, Buckley is reveling in the challenge.

And as much as she has on her mind right now, she doesn’t mind what she has in front of her one bit.

“I love my role,” Buckley said. “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Buckley’s all-around results

In Saturday’s meet against Ohio State, Allison Buckley took home the all-around honors, competing in all four events and capturing two first-place finishes.

Event Place Score

Vault 1 9.800

Parallel bars 4 9.700

Balance beam 3 9.750

Floor exercise 1 9.825

Total 1 39.075