Setbacks sometimes turn out for the best.
As the start of the Oregon State gymnastics season approached, Sabrina Gill was having a tough time.
Gill was trying to fight through injuries and a few other issues, making it difficult to get prepared properly for competition.
“Sabrina has come a long way,” OSU coach Tanya Chaplin said. “She had a difficult journey at the beginning of fall. She was having some back issues and things like that and we really had to make some decisions on where our priorities and focuses should be this year, so we decided to cut out vault and floor and just have her focus on bars and beam.”
Even with the lighter load, Gill was not 100 percent ready to go when the season began.
She scored a 9.675 on bars and did not compete on beam in the first meet, then sat out the next two weeks of competition. Gill returned for the UCLA meet and scored a 9.850 on beam while skipping bars.
It wasn’t until the Arizona trip that Gill seemed to hit her stride. She finished with a 9.900 on bars and a 9.850 on beam. Gill continued with consistent scores through most of the meets, but did have a mishap on bars in one meet and a fall on beam in another.
“So it was trying to bring her along on those two events and getting to where she wasn’t aggravating all the other body parts that were hurting,” Chaplin said. “It’s been great to really see this last month. She’s learning how to manage her body better and is able to get up there and make things happen, which I think increases that confidence level as well.”
While her scores had been solid through the Pac-12 meet, Gill’s performance over the two days of the Corvallis regional played a big part for the Beavers in getting to next weekend’s NCAA Championship.
Gill scored a 9.925 on bars and a 9.875 on beam during the first day as OSU finished with a 197.125 and advanced to the regional finals.
In the finals Gill anchored beam with a 9.900 and finished bars with another 9.900.
"Had we pushed vault and floor this season, I don’t know that she would have been in the same place," Chaplin said.
Junior Isis Lowery has been happy to see Gill come on strong.
“It’s just good to see her confidence finally getting up to a place where she just knows and trusts that she’s going to go out there and hit and just be amazing. It’s just really exciting as a teammate and as a friend to just see her finally really believe in her true potential,” Lowery said.
“I think that last weekend it just really clicked like she’s been doing really well in the gym and I think everything just came together and that’s why it was so exciting to see all that just finally happen. Not just a meet but a really important meet for us and it was great to see how happy she was.”
Gill said she’s happy with where she is as gymnast and said getting more numbers in the gym was a big help.
“I missed a lot of that in fall training because I was out for a while, but I think once I did more numbers in the gym and I was able to go out and compete more, my confidence grew and I think that’s the main thing that got me to where I am right now,” Gill said.
“I think I’ve always had confidence when I go out and compete. But I think it shows more in the gym now and it’s allowed myself to be able to do more numbers and I think that’s the main thing that’s helped me this year is just believing in myself.”
She began anchoring both events during the final home meet of the regular season.
Chaplin made the decision because she knew Gill could handle the spot without wavering mentally.
“It doesn’t matter where I put (Sabrina),” Chaplin said. “She does the same type of job no matter where she is and it doesn’t affect her or chance anything. That’s why no matter what happens in front of her, that’s not going to change what she does and she’s really good at separating those things, so that’s why she’s in that anchor position.”
Many people see Gill as very serious and not one to do a lot of talking. While she does tend to be introverted and quiet, that does not have a negative effect on her ability as a team leader.
“I’m definitely not one of the most vocal people on the team and they know that and they’re OK with that,” Gill said. “I honestly just try and give as much advice as I can because I’ve had so much experience in the past, so I usually try to give that advice, especially to the younger ones. I also try to lead just by example, especially by going and competing.”
Gill has one more season with the Beavers and she is looking forward to being able to use the success at the end of 2019 as a springboard into 2020 for her own gymnastics and the team.
“I really hope to continue kind of where I left off going into next fall,” she said. “I think this is like a really good start for next year and as for the team, I think this is just a huge confidence-booster for everyone and because I know and I hope the team knows that we can be a top eight team next year. We’re just as good as any of the other teams. So yeah, I think this is a positive way to start next year.”