Lena Greene had been working on her vault with Oregon State associate head gymnastics coach Michael Chaplin since last season.
Greene, now a sophomore, had to sit out her first year at OSU due to injuries. So she was able to put a fair amount of focus into developing the front handspring pike half, which has a 10.00 start value. That means a good performance is capable of a higher score than a routine with a lower start value of, say, a 9.900.
"Coming in to college I had been competing a pike, just a regular front pike, in (junior Olympics) and I had always been training the pike half on the side but I had never competed it until this year," Greene said. "And so me and Michael have been working really hard to get that pike half because it's important to get those 10.0 start values, especially on vault, because it's kind of rare nowadays.
"So I've just been working on my technique and changing a couple things and I was able to get the pike half two weeks ago."
It was two weeks ago, going into the Arizona State meet, that Greene really started to click.
Michael Chaplin was hesitant to put her right into the regular rotation, so he had her exhibition the event. Not only did Greene come through with a 9.850, but the score would have put her in a tie for third in the dual meet.
"Last week at home I made her do it exhibition because she had been doing well but I was like, 'I don't know, I don't know,' " Michael Chaplin said. "So (head coach Tanya Chaplin) was like, 'You should put her in.' And I didn't and I was stupid. She had a really good score exhibition-wise. So this week we were like, 'If everything goes well, we're putting you in.' "
So in went Greene and she was given the anchor position.
Michael Chaplin figured it would be a safe bet because the gymnasts in the lineup usually complete their try successfully.
"Going in I just had to think about my technique and just what I do every day because I did get the opportunity to exhibition this same vault the week before, so I knew that I was ready for the competition setting and I just had to focus on me," Greene said. "And then when he told me I was anchoring it really didn't change anything because when I'm in the exhibition spot I'm going last anyway, so it's kind of like the same situation, so I just had to think of it that way."
Greene stayed calm and hit her vault for a 9.900, good enough to win the event on her first official appearance in competition.
"She knocked it out," Michael Chaplin said. "She did a beautiful pike half, got a big score, won the event, first time competing. So that was really exciting to see her progress and perform well."
Gymnastics was just one aspect of Greene's life growing up in a sports-oriented family.
Her father, Ralph Greene Jr., played football for Stanford. Her mother ran track and was a cheerleader in high school. One older brother, Ralph Greene III, played football at Wagner. Another, Kaz, played football in high school and is a student at OSU. Sister Mika is a dancer who also competed in track.
Greene said her parents used to run a youth track club and so all the kids were involved in the sport.
Greene quit track for a time to focus on gymnastics, but did both once she started at Tigard High School.
"So I would go two hours at track practice and then go straight to my four-hour gymnastics practice," she said. "It was a pretty long day but it was worth it and it was probably the most fit I've ever been."
She concentrated in the long jump and triple jump and sometimes ran the 4x100 relay.
Oddly enough, her background in both sports have intersected. The long jump, triple jump and vault all require a sprint down a runway.
"If you watch my run I start like a track person. I don't know why, that's just a habit I got into when I was on the runway in track and so it translated to my runway on vault," Greene said. "And I think that my speed is definitely attributed to my track background. My power is from gymnastics."