It seemed, at the time, like a routine kill attempt for Brooklyn Zarlingo against Paris last Oct. 10.
While the kill was successful, Zarlingo landed wrong. “I jumped off one leg and came down on one leg, and it just buckled,” Zarlingo said in an interview last week.
The next day, she was doing another routine thing — trying to kick her shoe off — and the knee popped.
The result was a torn left ACL and lateral meniscus, and that was the end of her competitions for 2019-20.
Since then, Zarlingo has been working hard on rehabbing the injury. She was going to physical therapy three times a week, but that was changed to once a week about a month ago.
“It was really rough at first because I couldn’t get (my foot) down,” she said, “but then I started walking and jogging and the muscle came back.”
She had to be on crutches for a month but started walking again in December, jogging in February and lately has increased her speed. Until recently, Zarlingo was running every day, but the knee began to hurt and so she has scaled it back.
Zarlingo will undergo return to sport testing in early May. She credits Dr. Christopher Arnold of Advanced Orthopaedic Specialists in Fayetteville with helping her out.
“The previous doctors I’d been to didn’t really explain it to me at all, but then with him, he took the time,” said Zarlingo.
Zarlingo’s mother, Holley, described Dr. Arnold as very personable. Dr. Arnold also works with Arkansas Razorback athletes.
Not being able to go through her normal routine has been frustrating. Zarlingo cited cheerleading as an example.
“I couldn’t go to the football games and had to watch on TV, and had to sit and watch the volleyball games,” she said.
Zarlingo’s best sport, track, was curtailed along with softball by concerns about the COVID-19 coronavirus. She had set numerous school records last season and was able to go to the 2019 Meet of Champions by virtue of her performances in the long jump and pole vault. With the rest of the 2020 season canceled, Zarlingo will enter the 2021 track season as still the defending Class 3A long jump champion.
For her senior year, Zarlingo has set her goals high.
“I’d like to get a scholarship for track,” she said.
She also said that going to state in volleyball and softball was a goal along with winning state in competitive cheer.
“We got second last year, so win state this year,” she said.
Zarlingo has not decided where she would like to go to college yet, but said she wants to eventually go to medical school and study dermatology.
Along with her running, Zarlingo has begun practicing her cheer routine for next season. The Arkansas Activities Association-mandated dead period has precluded her from team activities, but Zarlingo is working hard on her own to pick up where she left off last October, when she led the volleyball team in kills even missing the last few matches.
And, of course, to be on the sideline cheering for the Bearcat football team when the 2020 season begins.