COLUMBIA, Mo. - 2014 is going much better for Rebecca Johnson.
"Last year I was just learning how to walk," the junior gymnast said.
Johnson is back after missing the entire 2013 season with a knee injury. She was selected as a NCAA regional alternate for the bars. It is quite the comeback story, which all started with an awkward landing off the vault in a meet against Alabama.
"I landed with my left leg completely straight and hyper-extended it," she described. "I tore my PCL and I fractured my tibia. The top of my tibia went into my femur, and so it fractured the top of it"
Sitting out was something new to Johnson.
"It was a pretty big injury and I have never been seriously injured before in my gymnastics career," she said. "It was definitely a really hard thing to deal with. It was just a long recovery process and that's what's made everything so much sweeter."
As she eased back into things, Johnson worked on other events to keep up her stamina.
"The funny thing is my bars got so much better because I was training a lot on bars this summer. "
In fact, it is worked so well, she took three event titles on the bar this year. Johnson notes that while she only competed on the bars, she can still train in the all-around.
"It is just great to see someone who's been through that big of an injury and come back so strong, and be such a role model for young athletes," said Angie Kern, a freshman on Mizzou gymnastics.
"It got a lot easier and I just knew that my body was healed. A lot of it is muscle memory and my body knows how to that. And I just trusted that. And that helped with the fear element of coming back from something like that."
Junior Rachel Updike earned the individual regional nod for the vault. Johnson is an alternate for the uneven bars while Kern is an alternate for the floor routine. The Fayetteville regional takes place on April 5th.