Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

Sports

January 9, 2014

Career nearly ended by back injury, Livingston stars for Andover gymnastics

After nearly career-ending injury, Livingston stars for Andover gymnastics

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She began to return to gymnastics slowly as a freshman, placing fourth in the bars at North Sections.

As a sophomore, she continued to regain her form, winning the all-around in six meets, and added six more victories in the vault — falling only to a boy competing for Methuen. She then led Andover to its first North Sectional title since 2000, taking fourth in the all-around as part of a dynamic duo with Courtney Carver. Livingston then placed a team-best fourth in the all-around at the state meet.

A season later she placed first or second in the all-around in six dual meets, trading firsts with Carver, then earned team-best finish in the all-around at North Sectionals. She has opened this season in style, winning the all-around in the season-opener, then scoring a team-best second in the second meet.

And excelling in the all-around (which combines the score of the vault, floor exercise, balance beam and bars) in so many different events is a unique challenge for Livingston, due to the limitations of her back injury.

“I can’t do any extreme back-bending,” Livingston said. “I can’t do back handsprings or bridges. My back just doesn’t extend like that anymore. So I have to take certain skills out of my routine, some that are easier for other gymnasts, and replace them with different skills. They are tougher, but I make it work.”

This winter will likely be the end of Livingston’s gymnastics career, as she plans to focus on her studies in college, having already been accepted to Michigan State, Ohio State, Indiana and Florida State.

“I just don’t think my back could take it,” said Livingston, who Vadala believes could compete at a Division 1 college if she chose. “Four more years would be too much. Hopefully the pain will subside then.”

But before she calls it a career, Livingston has her eyes set on one more big season.

“After four years I want to go out with a bang,” she said. “I want to help my team make a run at North Sectionals and states. That would be the cherry on the top of the ice cream of my career.”

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