Following the seventh surgery of her gymnastics career two years ago, no one would have blamed Sarie Morrison if she had bowed out and gotten on with being a student.
But despite two operations before she arrived at LSU as an all-arounder in the fall of 2010 — and five more since — Morrison is still going strong as she nears the end of her time with the Tigers.
The best thing is that Morrison, now a bars and vault specialist, is going out on her own terms.
After one senior night March 14, she’ll get another one of sorts Saturday when LSU hosts five other teams in an NCAA regional at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
When she had surgery following the 2012 season to have two screws inserted into her left foot for a fractured navicular bone — which came three months after having bone spurs removed that nearly wiped out her entire sophomore campaign — Morrison couldn’t have known her seventh operation would be the lucky one.
Through the injury, which left her in a cast for months, as well as an ankle reconstruction, bone spurs and several cleanout procedures, the Dallas native has found a silver lining.
“Actually, I’ve been pretty lucky,” she said with a smile. “At the end of my sophomore year, when I had two screws put in my foot, I was so concerned that I wouldn’t be able to do any of the events anymore.
“To be able to come back my junior year and still be able to do vault and bars has literally been like the blessing of my life,” Morrison added. “It’s been exciting to be able to do that.”
Not as exciting as doing all four events and competing in the all-around for the third-ranked Tigers, who look to finish in the top two Saturday and qualify for the national semifinals in two weeks.
But exciting enough.
As fate would have it, Morrison’s two favorite events are bars and vault. She said focusing on those two were a blessing in disguise, especially when she earned All-America honors last season at the NCAA championships with scores of 9.95 and 9.90, respectively.
LSU coach D-D Breaux and All-American all-arounder Rheagan Courville marvel at how Morrison has been able to overcome all the ankle and foot injuries to have such an outstanding and productive career.
“Injuries weigh heavily on your emotional state when you’re a gymnast because you need every ounce of your physicality and you need everything mentally,” Courville said. “Sarie is a really tough, really strong person who can withstand anything.”
Breaux added: “Sarie is a rock … she’s done a great job. She’s not a very vocal leader, but she leads by example in the classroom and gym. She focuses on the things the coaches feel are important.”
Morrison’s done it knowing that one more surgery might have been the end of a gymnastics career that began when she was just a toddler.
Then again, maybe not.
“I never really thought that I would have to quit ... ever,” Morrison said. “I just thought I might be limited to bars. If I couldn’t do that, I would have been on the sideline cheering for everyone.
“No matter if I could have done nothing or everything, it’s still my team. I would have never quit and never given it up because I love it so much. It’s all really been worth it.”