Athlete of the Week: Miranda Russell

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Redshirt senior Miranda Russell has been a staple in the gymnastics program ever since she stepped foot on campus. Russell's 9.800 score on the vault was instrumental in the Wildcats' 195.400-193.450 victory over the University of Illinois at Chicago last Friday.



The coaching staff continually says it has never been more proud of Russell than this season. Head coach Bill Ryden often says her current level of performance is five years in the making.



Russell was plagued with a knee injury two years ago, and still feels slight pain, but refuses to use it as an excuse, often thinking about what her mom told her, ""It is what it is, you just have to fight through it.""



Russell talked to the Daily Wildcat about keeping her mind off injuries, the team this season and being a senior leader.



Daily Wildcat: You had the weekend to think about your performance, is it still special or do you just move on to the next meet?



Miranda Russell: Yeah, I'm still happy about it. There is still stuff I have to work on and I am always looking ahead.



You struggled with injuries throughout your career, does that make it extra special?



Yeah it does, because I have waited two years to be back on floor. Having to wait that long does make it a little more sweet.



What was rehabbing like for you?



When I first started coming back from my ACL injury I worked really hard and I did it every day; I did everything I could. I ended up not really recovering like I should have, so I ended up having to have another surgery after my season last year. After the second surgery I worked again, rehab, did everything I could. I'm really lucky to have less pain than last year so I could do three events.



Were you ever concerned that you wouldn't be able to come back?



Yeah, I have been broken-hearted a couple times in the last two years thinking I wouldn't be able to do much more than bars. For someone like me, who thrives on working hard and doing all the events and pushing myself through my pain, it wasn't my dream to end my career only doing one event.



You are the only senior on the team. Have you embraced the leadership role?



Yeah, I was kind of thrown into this position one time in high school with my club gymnastics team. I have passion for gymnastics, that's why we're all here.



The team seems very close. Who is the funniest girl on the team?



Probably Ali (Stakem), she has brought a lot of humor to the team. Ellen (Pitluck) is really funny, too. Between the two of them it can get pretty ridiculous.



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