CHICAGO (CBS) — Alexa Messina will try to help Sandberg High School qualify for the state gymnastics finals on Wednesday. She’s also trying to qualify individually, but she should get a perfect 10 just for being able to walk.
As CBS 2’s Megan Mawicke reports, the star gymnast had a bumpy ride at the start of the season, but Messina’s back on course to end her career with a bang.
Messina is used to doing flips, but not in her car. Last October, the Sandburg High School senior was driving on Interstate 55. She got distracted, then lost control of her car and landed upright in a ditch.
“It was pretty tragic. My car flipped over 3 times with two of my best friends. Luckily, we all walked out of it with no broken bones,” Messina said.
Miraculously, she only had a concussion and seven stitches on her arm. She missed just a few weeks of the season. Now she’s gearing up to make it to the state finals for a fourth straight year, with a new outlook on life.
“It made me look at things a lot differently and appreciate what I have and not take anything for granted. It if wasn’t for the seatbelts I don’t know what would have happened,” said Messina.
“You can see it in her performance. She has that extra sparkle when she does certain things. She’s going for things that before she might have been holding back a little bit more. She’s just putting her full self out there now,” said Sandburg gymnastics coach Kory Kronenberg.
Asked if the crash changed her as an athlete, Messina said, “I think so. Sometimes I think about it when I won’t go for a skill and Coach White will say: you rolled over in a car three times, you can do this. This is easy compared to that, so I just do it now.”
Messina says the accident felt like a dream for a while, but then reality set in and she believes she was given a second chance. Now she’s determined more than ever to finish top ten in state individually.
“It’s my senior year so I want to go out with a bang. I just really want to place in the top 10 in anything stand on the podium in the top 5 would be the best feeling,” said Messina.
Alexa is attending Illinois State University next year. She thinks she’s done with her gymnasts career; more reason why she wants to make the most of her final chance. But down the road, she said she might want to teach gymnastics.