Olsen feels ‘powerful,’ ready for action


By Steve Shonder

A hamstring injury wasn’t enough to keep sophomore Jaelyn Olsen down last year. Now that she’s recovered, she has her expectations set even higher.

Olsen has been gymnastics’ go-to vaulter since last season, when, as a freshman, she came in and started all 11 meets. She averaged 9.78 in those meets, making her one of the Huskies’ top starters on vault.

She accomplished that despite being hampered by a hamstring injury throughout the season. Olsen said she’ll be better than ever this year.

“This year, I feel powerful, like I’m back to where I was,” Olsen said. “Everything’s better.”

In three meets this season, Olsen has averaged 9.8. Against Nebraska on Jan. 11, she scored a 9.825, which was just shy of her career-high 9.875.

In her freshman year, Olsen showed the potential head coach Sam Morreale said he saw when he recruited her.

Olsen’s injury wasn’t hurting her competitive edge in meets or in practices. Morreale said she gives 110 percent even when she’s not close to 100 percent.

“Jae’s the type of kid in practice that’s always trying to give me more,” Morreale said. “So, it’s on me to kind of keep her backed off….”

While the injury hurt Olsen, she managed to gain something from it.

“It held me back a little last year,” Olsen said. “I was only able to contribute to vault. This year, I just came in healthy. It helped me to push my limits and know that I can still help even when I’m hurt. That’s pushed me to do my best.

“The season was really fun, and doing so well just motivated me to keep doing better every single meet and just making everything count in practice.”

This season, Olsen has been the lead scorer on vault on a team with many strong vaulters. The Huskies have only lost vault once this season: when Nebraska won the event, 49.25-48.6.

Olsen’s vault of a 9.825 against Nebraska placed her third behind scores of 9.95 and 9.85. Olsen won vault against Ball State on Jan. 24 and Western Michigan Saturday.

If she continues to progress, Olsen should put up the highest-scoring vault in every meet for the rest of the season. She said she knows how to bring her scores up.

“Working on my landing, that’s my problem,” Olsen said. “I just need to stick it. I think of one thing at a time versus seeing it in my head before I go.”

Morreale said he is confident Olsen will keep getting better and she is well on her way to fulfilling her full potential.

“She’s a rock star,” Morreale said. “[The way] she carries herself, her poise, her lines, everything she does is just a cleanliness step above other kids. Her stuff just looks effortless, and I’m excited by it.”