Rhett Umphress

With a patchwork lineup, the Ball State University gymnastics team put up season highs on the balance beam and floor exercise along with multiple career highs

It just wasn't enough Saturday, as Ball State was defeated by No. 23 Central Michigan University 194.325-193.275.

For the second straight week, sophomore Ellie Carrico and freshman Emily Wehrle were each held from competition.

"We had a lot of girls that we had to rest them," coach Nadalie Walsh said. "We're trying to think about the big picture with conference coming up. If somebody needs an extra day off, we have to make sure we're doing what's best."

Ball State (5-10, 0-5 MAC) scored a 48.6 on the beam, including career highs by freshman Nicole Allen (9.675), redshirt freshman Julie Cotter (9.8) and senior Megan Howard (9.675).

"We told Nicole, ‘Hey, we're going to need you [on beam],'" Walsh said. "Her confidence as a high-level gymnast shone through today."

The beam, which has been a sore point for Ball State this year, was the one event it won Saturday, outscoring Central Michigan's 47.575. Ball State's 48.6 was the 14th-best score in school history.

Allen (9.775) and Howard (9.625) had career highs on the floor as well, combining with a career best from freshman Amber Parsley (9.675) and solid scores from freshman Tiffany Brodbeck (9.85) and sophomore Brittney Emmons (9.875) to give the Cardinals their season-best 48.8 on the event. Emmons' floor performance was the only individual victory for Ball State on the day.

Walsh said the team had a slow start on the vault and uneven bars, but they came together to encourage each other. The energy let them perform well on the floor, which carried over to the beam.

Central Michigan (11-2, 4-1 MAC) withstood these career highs from Ball State, winning three individual events and three team events. The Chippewas margin of victory on the vault (48.875-47.775) was greater than the overall result.

Emmons competed well against one of the best all-around gymnasts in the MAC. Senior Katie Simon outlasted Emmons 38.625-38.5 in the all-around in her Chippewa farewell.

"Brittney is capable of competing against the best in the country," Walsh said. "We're thankful to have her on the team."

Central Michigan was also led by senior Jessica Suder, who won the beam, and freshman Emily LaFontaine, who won the bars.

Other Cardinal bests came from freshman Morgan Coslow, who had a career-high on the bars with a 9.65, and senior Ashley Jacob's season-high 9.725 on the same event.

Walsh said she could be disappointed by the loss but is encouraged by the fact her team was just one point behind one of the best teams in the Mid-American Conference.

The Cardinals scored above 193 for the third time this season. In the previous two years of Walsh's tenure, Ball State had reached that mark three times total.

Ball State will close the regular season March 21 when it hosts Eastern Michigan University in Worthen Arena for Senior Day.