The injury was devastating, but it couldn’t keep Quinn Kacirek from fighting back to qualify for the state tournament one last time.
The North Olmsted senior tore her left anterior cruciate ligament on the balance beam last March at the Level 9 state tournament while competing for her club team, North Olmsted Gymnastics. Kacirek was injured doing a back handspring, layout step-out, which is part of her beam series. She landed one foot on the beam, but missed with the other.
“Quinn’s excited about making state and wants to end her career on a high note,” teammate Krissy Nash-Carabello. “I remember the day that she got hurt. Initially, it didn’t look like that bad of an injury. I was shocked to learn how serious it was.”
Kacirek immediately iced the knee, then tried to warm up for floor exercise. She quickly realized the injury was more serious.
“It wasn’t that swollen,” she said. “I thought I only hyperextended it, but it felt unstable so I scratched for the rest of the meet. I was able to walk on it the next day, but I knew something wasn’t right so I went to get X-rays and an MRI.”
Kacirek, who will compete in the uneven parallel bars Saturday in the individual competition, had surgery in early May and was sidelined for six months as she rehabbed. It was the most serious injury of her career. Previously, a chipped elbow in the sixth grade topped the list.
Nash-Carabello qualified for the state meet in all-around, vault and the uneven parallel bars. The two have known each other since they were 8 when they first trained together for North Olmsted Gymnastics. Nash-Carabello was a member of the program when Kacirek switched from another local gym.
Their last meet together for the Eagles will be emotional.
“It’s really bittersweet because we’ve been through years of training together,” Kacirek said. “We both know how good we are. We’re both supportive of each other in terms of helping each other out when we’re injured, helping each other out with skills we’re unsure of.
“We give each other pep talks and enjoy watching each other. We’re just excited for each other no matter what happens.”
Kacirek was a state qualifier in all-around as a sophomore and junior, and took third at state in balance beam as a sophomore. Nash-Carabello was sixth in bars, seventh in vault and 10th all-around last year.
Nash-Carabello has managed to avoid serious injury, unlike her friend.
“We both love the sport,” Nash-Carabello said. “It’s been a great challenge and we’ve both enjoyed it very much. We’ve enjoyed working and training together very much all these years.”
They still have some club meets after Saturday, but this spring marks the end of their gymnastics careers. Kacirek plans to attend art college and Nash-Carabello wants to be a nursing student at Cleveland State.
“Quinn’s a great teammate,” Nash-Carabello said. “When I’m frustrated about something she’s supportive and always right there for me to provide help and encouragement.”
Contact Paul Heyse at (440) 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
WHAT: 42nd annual state girls gymnastics meet
WHERE: Hilliard Bradley H.S.
WHEN: Team competition — Today, 3:30 p.m.; Individual competition — Saturday, noon
Individual competition (local qualifiers)
Julia Corrao, jr. (Magnificat/ Avon resident): all-around, vault, floor exercise
Quinn Kacirek, sr. (North Olmsted, left): uneven parallel bars
Krissy Nash-Carabello, sr. (North Olmsted): all-around, vault, uneven parallel bars