Rhett Umphress

It seemed like the same story being told again.

Going into the final rotation, the Ball State University gymnastics team was involved in another tight meet. The team trailed Illinois State University by 0.025 and narrowly led Texas Woman's University by 0.15.

This was a familiar situation for the Cardinals. Each time, something had gone wrong and they would drop the meet by a narrow margin.

But this time, the Cardinals stepped up on the floor exercise.

Each gymnast had a clean routine, with score above 9.6, including career highs by freshman Emily Wehrle and sophomore Ellie Carrico.

"I feel like there's a lot more fire in them and a lot more confidence," coach Nadalie Walsh said.

The meet-best 48.6 propelled the Cardinals to the victory.

Ball State finished with a 192.075 to defeat Illinois State (191.4) and Texas Woman's (191.2). It is the fourth meet this year decided by less than a point.

"I think we finally held it together throughout the whole meet and we definitely showed [our potential]," Wehrle said.

Overcoming mistakes was key to the Cardinals' victory.

Last week, consecutive falls doomed the squad on the balance beam and the floor. Walsh said she knew there would be problems, but didn't want them to domino like in previous weeks.

"I feel like we had mistakes the way we do in other meets, but they were able to keep it non-emotional and they didn't let it effect them," she said.

This week, the Cardinals responded well to its errors. Although they were forced to count a mistake on the bars after freshman Morgan Coslow and senior Ashley Jacob suffered falls, sophomore Kayla Kmiecik and junior Katelyn Busacker responded well. They both put up solid scores on the next routine to get the Cardinals back on track.

"They get the props for what we were able to muster out on bars," Walsh said. "Without them being confident in themselves and realizing that what the person before them does doesn't affect them, they wouldn't have step up and done that. It would've been disastrous."

In what was a very competitive meet, Ball State won the vault with a season-best 48.525 along with the floor Sunday. Illinois State took the beam honors and Texas Woman's triumphed on the bars.

For the second straight week, the team had six clean vaults, including a season-best 9.725 by Jacob. Walsh said that she just wants to see cleaner landings on the vault in the upcoming weeks.

Ball State was led by sophomore Brittney Emmons, who scored a 9.825 to win the floor exercise and a 9.75 to tie for first on the vault.

Senior Bibiana Rodriguez was the top scorer on the uneven bars for Ball State, and Wehrle led the team on beam with a 9.625.

Sophomore Rashonda Cannie, of Texas Woman's (3-6), took the all-around with a 38.65, outlasting Illinois State junior Erica Schick (38.55) and Emmons (38.5).

Illinois State's (8-3) top scorer was sophomore Melissa Mann. She won the beam with a 9.75.

With the two wins, Ball State improves to 5-6 on the season. The five wins make up the most in a season during Walsh's three-year tenure.

The Cardinals will have their third-straight home meet next Sunday at 1 p.m. Ball State will host Kent State University, the preseason Mid-American Conference favorites. Walsh said that continued confidence will allow the Cardinals to be competitive next week.

"The goal is to keep doing what we're doing, but doing it better," she said.


Clean Routines
Seven Cardinals avoided falls in Sunday's win:
- Nicole Allen
- Katelyn Busacker
- Ellie Carrico
- Brittney Emmons
- Kayla Kmiecik
- Bibiana Rodriguez
- Emily Wehrle