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'She had to go 5 mph, 10 mph, 15 mph': How Sooners' Olivia Trautman has worked back from a preseason injury

OU's Olivia Trautman dismounts the balance beam during Perfect 10 Challenge last February at the Cox Convention Center. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman]
OU's Olivia Trautman dismounts the balance beam during Perfect 10 Challenge last February at the Cox Convention Center. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman]

NORMAN — Olivia Trautman knew something was wrong right away.

During the floor exercise warmups for OU’s preseason intersquad meet, Trautman felt a crack in her foot as she worked on her leap pass.

“My leaps ended up fine, but right then I knew something wasn’t right,” Trautman said.

Now, about two months later, Trautman is still working her way back into the lineup.

She returned on the uneven bars Jan. 17 at Alabama, then on the balance beam on Jan. 31.

Sunday when the top-ranked Sooners travel to face Texas Woman’s University at 2 p.m., Trautman is expected to compete on the vault for the first time this season.

“We’re going to do what we can here in the month of February to get her there,” OU coach K.J. Kindler said.

Trautman had never experienced an injury like the one she suffered before the season.

Working her way back slowly was a challenge for Trautman.

“Once I got the clear from my doctor, I wanted to start right away but they said no because I needed to get my strength back and the little muscles back in my one leg,” Trautman said.

Managing that return has been challenging for Kindler as well.

“For someone like her who is not injured very often, she has no patience,” Kindler said. “Most really great athletes don’t. They just want to wait their three weeks and get right back out there 100 mph. For her she had to go 5 mph, 10 mph, 15 mph, and just keep going.”

As a freshman a year ago, Trautman was a first-team All-American in the floor exercise and a second-team All-American on the vault.

“We definitely want her to be out there in March,” Kindler said of the floor.

In the offseason, it was the bars that were the biggest challenge for Trautman.

Trautman suffered a minor injury with her upper body that coaches felt was the result of her release on the bar routine.

“So we decided to get rid of it,” Kindler said.

During the summer, her routine was retooled but Trautman still wasn’t quite sold.

“I want to change my routine back,” Trautman told Kindler during their fall meeting.

Kindler told her assistant coaches — Lou Ball and Tom Haley — about Trautman’s concerns.

They told her to stick with the changed routine.

It worked. Her first time out, Trautman had a career-best 9.900. Since, she’s hit a 9.875 in the event each of the last three weeks.

“They kind of coaxed her into buying into it and once she did and gave it a little more time, this is the result,” Kindler said. “You have to believe in what you’re doing to have it come to fruition. Now, if you asked her if she wanted to change her bar routine, she’d say, ‘No way.’”

Ryan Aber

Ryan Aber has worked for The Oklahoman since 2006, covering high schools, the Oklahoma City RedHawks, the Oklahoma City Barons and OU football recruiting. An Oklahoma City native, Aber graduated from Northeastern State. Before joining The... Read more ›

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