Fifteen months ago, Mia Tabbutt got the news she dreaded.
She suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee during a Level 10 floor routine – the top competition level in gymnastics – in November 2009, just prior to the start of her junior season of high school gymnastics.
The Capital High School gymnast, who has been in the sport since elementary school, went from year-round participation to having lots of free time.
“It was pretty depressing,” Tabbutt said. “I didn’t know what to do for the first few weeks. It was pretty hard. I definitely missed it.”
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After surgery and nine months of rigorous rehabilitation, Tabbutt, now a senior, will take part in her final high school meet when she and Capital teammate Jessica Buchholz (all-around) compete at the state gymnastics championships today and Saturday at the Tacoma Dome’s Exhibition Hall. They’re two of nine South Sound gymnasts in the state competition.
The big-meet stage is nothing new for Tabbutt. As a sophomore in 2009, she finished second in the all-around competition (second in bars and beam, fourth in floor and sixth in vault). That summer, she won the Level 9 junior all-around competition at the YMCA National Gymnastic Championships. Tabbutt has since left club gymnastics and is concentrating on her final season of high school competition.
Despite being out of gymnastics for a little more than a year, it didn’t take her long to wear off the rust. Competing brace-free, she registered a 37.45 in the all-around at the Cougars’ third meet of the season, which remains one of the top all-around scores in the state.
“I was definitely surprised I was able to start doing old stuff again,” Tabbutt said. “Coming back from not being able to do anything and doing everything again has been really cool.”
Capital coach Karen McQuiston says Tabbutt’s hard work to get back in a competitive groove could bode well for the 5-foot-4 dynamo this weekend. High scores around the state for 3A all-around have been in the mid-36-37 range.
“I don’t think she knows how well her chances are to win the all-around, but they’re very good,” McQuiston said. “It’s definitely a possibility for her.”
Two weeks ago, Tabbutt led Capital to the team title (152.65 points) at the 3A/2A Narrows/Olympic sub-district meet. She won the all-around with 36.375 points, including a 9.5 score on her floor exercise routine, her favorite event. At last weekend’s district meet, Tabbutt finished second in the all-around (34.35) behind Highline’s Mia Alvarez (36.1).
She’s excited to compete at state for the final time, but not looking for the pressure to get to her.
“I just want to have fun,” Tabbutt said.
About Tabbutt’s great senior year, McQuiston said, “She’s worked hard all season. We’re definitely hoping for some good things (today and Saturday).”