Tumbling back to the top | Prep Gymnastics

Kentlake junior Ashley Pernell returns to the gym after ACL injury sidelined her

Ashley Pernell wasn’t sure she wanted to return to gymnastics after tearing her ACL two years ago.

“I was doing a tumbling pass and I was doing a one and a half and just landed wrong,” Pernell said. “I just heard my knee make this really loud noise.”

The injury led to Pernell, a Kentlake junior, sitting out her sophomore gymnastics season, and some hesitancy when it came to getting back in the gym.

“I didn’t want to get hurt again, didn’t know what I could – what skills I had,” Pernell said.

At the time Pernell was a level nine gymnast and was a part of a club team at Roach Gymnastics in Sumner. Pernell had been involved in gymnastics since she was a toddler.

“I was like 3 or so,” Pernell said. “My mom put me in when I was little and I really like it a lot.”

The road back from her injury was a long one and involved Pernell trying a couple new sports in the process.

“I got hurt in January, had surgery in March, barely could start walking a month later, and had physical therapy for six months,” Pernell said. “The end of my sophomore year I did track. That was what got my knee back in shape.”

Pernell also joined a club cheerleading team.

“That’s a bunch of tumbling and stretching,” Pernell said.

Pernell said it was the encouragement of one of her good friends, who was also on the gymnastics team, which helped her decide to try gymnastics again.

“My Mom was really surprised,” Pernell said. “And my Dad was really happy.”

Despite her injury and time off it only took about a month for everything to come back to her, Pernell said.

“I think it’s muscle memory,” Pernell said.

One of the highlights of the season for Pernell was when she scored a personal best 37.3 points in the all-around competition at the All-City meet in late January to wrap up the league season.

“It was the first meet where I got nines on everything,” Pernell said.

Pernell competed at the state gymnastics meet Feb. 15-16, placing eighth in the all-around competition, fourth in the floor event and fifth on vault.

Pernell said another highlight was qualifying for finals at state where only the top eight gymnasts compete in each event.

Gymnastics is back in Pernell’s future and she said she is looking forward to trying to do even better next year.

“My goal is to improve my bar dismount to double back and clean up my routines everywhere else.”

Reach Katherine Smith ksmith@covingtonreporter.com or 425-432-1209 ext. 5052.