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By Madeleine Balestrier, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As Penn State gymnast Greg Tamargo stuck his landings on vault and maintained composure on still rings for two event victories last Saturday, the Blue and White faithful cheered on a full-circle story of struggle, comeback, and redemption.
"It's been quite an experience for him and it was really nice to see him succeed this weekend," senior caption Ben Cooperman said. "We've got a lot of talented people on this team and Greg's a guy who works hard and it shows when you compete like that so I'm proud of him."
Flashback to the spring of 2016 when Tamargo began preparing for the finale of his sophomore year: the NCAA championships. During a normal intrasquad practice, Tamargo was perfecting his floor routine as his second pass landed him a nagging ankle injury, an ankle injury that would continually create issues and eventually sideline his entire 2017 season.
"I kind of didn't even know it was broken for quite sometime," Tamargo said. "So it wasn't until that following January...where I actually got the surgery I needed to get it fixed. It took [me] almost three quarters of a year just to even realize that it was even broken and then I had a long recovery process."
The Nittany Lion, with the help of Penn State trainers, rehabbed continuously for three months just to reach a basic activity level and regain his strength. While working on the mobility of his ankle, Tamargo also dealt with a lingering shoulder injury.
"I was already very injured for the most part so I guess timing-wise it wasn't what I wanted, I never want to miss a season but in the end, I kind of needed it," Tamargo said.
Tamargo's story of struggle turned its page to comeback when he relocated to Columbia, Maryland this past summer for an internship as a marketing risk analyst at Exelon Corporation and an opportunity arose to train at Paragon Gymnastics with a childhood coach and former Olympian.
"It took about three months or so you know to get back to be able to basic stuff again and it took another couple of months to get back into the swing of things fully," Tamargo said on the training.
While upholding the men's gymnastics standards for excellence in athletics and education, Tamargo utilized his internship and time training in Columbia as a means to distance himself from his injury and focus his training and goals for the upcoming year and season within Rec Hall and across the Big Ten.
"He learned a lot his freshman year, he soaked up a lot of instruction and then he had some injuries along the way," head coach Randy Jepson said. "He's matured to the point where physically he knows what he needs to do and how to do it best and so I think that is giving him a really good start this year."
Tamargo's dedication to his comeback accelerated his path to redemption, success, and the heights of the podium.
"He works really hard...always in the gym wanting to get better," Cooperman said. "That's something I really point out about him, he's a work horse. That's what he does, he gets in the gym everyday."
Tamargo persevered to the top of the podium as last Saturday's most outstanding gymnast with impressive showings on vault, still rings and the floor. Although no stranger to competition with the Penn State Nittany Lions and top-10 finishes in his respective events throughout his career, Tamargo is cruising towards his best season yet while donning the Blue and White.
"He's made some great progress and I am really happy for his success this year," Jepson said.
As the Nittany Lions take on the Fighting Illini this Saturday at 4 p.m., keep an eye on Tamargo as he continues to write his redemption story.
"So first time getting surgery [was] definitely a tough experience overall but I benefitted from it in the end," Tamargo said.
For more information on Nittany Lion men's gymnastics, log onto www.GoPSUsports.com and follow the team on the various social media platforms.