Ivory’s comeback from Achilles injury


Photo: Andrew Clawson/Iowa State Daily

Milan Ivory prepares for her finale of her routine on the balance beam during the Beauty and the Beast gymnastics and wrestling meet  Feb. 8 at Hilton Coliseum.

Maddy Arnold

Injuries have plagued the ISU gymnastics team this season. In the midst of all the injuries, this year has seen the comeback for one of its best gymnasts.

Junior Milan Ivory is no stranger to injuries. This is the first year Ivory has been able to compete in every meet so far this season. She missed most of her freshman season as well as all of last season because of injuries.

“I personally think [Ivory] is the most talented gymnast on this team,” said junior Megan McDonald. “To see her out for the first two years of her college career was heartbreaking really.”

At the beginning of her freshman season, Ivory suffered an ankle injury. As a result, she could not make her collegiate debut until the Big 12 meet at the end of season.

“We started seeing this young athlete who had potential to be really, really good and could make a huge impact on our team and then bam, she was injured right away,” said ISU gymnastics coach Jay Ronayne. “It really took the wind out of the sails — not only for the team but for her.”

Her sophomore year, Ivory was excited to finally get a chance to compete for Iowa State for an entire season. Her excitement for the upcoming season soon ended after she suffered another injury during practice.

“Back when it happened, it was rough because I was coming out of my freshman year the year before, and I didn’t compete until the end of the season,” Ivory said. “So I was all fired up and ready to go and then this happened. It kind of put me back and upset me a lot.”

During preseason workouts, Ivory was practicing her floor routine. Ivory attempted a double back during her last pass. That was when she tore the Achilles tendon in her right leg.

Right after the injury occurred, Ivory did not think it was anything serious. She attempted to continue with practice until the team noticed there was something wrong.

“I tried to get up and shake it off,” Ivory said. “Everyone else heard it pop but I was in the middle of a routine so I didn’t hear it or anything. It just felt like [someone] kicked me.”

Ivory missed her entire sophomore season and received a medical redshirt. After almost a year of physical therapy, Ivory returned to competition this season.

This year, Ivory has not been restricted in practice because of the injury. Ronayne said she started off with limited repetitions, and they still have to pay close attention to the tendon every day.

Even though Ivory is healthy and back to competing, Ronayne said she is still not back to level she was at before the Achilles tear and still has more room for improvement.

“She’s not there yet, not at all — I would say she’s probably 75 percent of the athlete she was but she’s on her way back,” Ronayne said. “You will see a progression. You will see her getting back.”

Ronayne said Ivory is a talented gymnast that he recruited for her power who can be a valuable member of the team when she is healthy.

“I was amazed and could not believe how quick and powerful this young lady was,” Ronayne said. “She means anywhere from two-to-five-tenths more to a team score just with her being healthy and confident.”

McDonald said watching Ivory get healthy and return to competition has been an inspiration to the team.

“To see her hard work her first two years put into rehab and the struggle behind that and the tears and the sweat behind that really is inspiring to the team,” McDonald said. “To see someone come from such a dark place to where she is now is really amazing.”