Rhett Umphress

This time, the Cardinals were on the right side of a narrow margin of victory.

The Ball State University gymnastics team came from behind Sunday to defeat Eastern Michigan University 193.45-193.425 on Senior Day at Worthen Arena.

"Every little tenth counts, every half-tenth counts," coach Nadalie Walsh said. "In the gym, we train for every little thing. This is just a good point to the girls that when the coaches tell them it matters, it really does matters."

Eastern Michigan led Ball State 145.6-144.575 going into the final rotation, where the Cardinals would be on the floor exercise and the Eagles would be on the balance beam.

On the floor, three Cardinals — sophomore Christa Greinke and freshmen Amber Parsley and Tiffany Brodbeck — put up career highs. Brodbeck's 9.9 tied the 10th-best performance in school history.

"All of my adrenaline just kind of came out," Brodbeck said. "I hope to make a new record again sometime."

Ball State scored a 48.875 to win the floor competition. The score is a season best for the Cardinals.

But it almost wasn't enough.

With the Eagles trailing by 0.75, Eastern Michigan junior Nikole Viltz needed a 9.8 as the last competitor to give her team the lead and, presumably, the win. That's exactly what she did, and the Eagles pulled ahead by 0.025.

The routines were done, but the meet wasn't over yet.

A judges' review found that Greinke's floor score had been undervalued, raising it by 0.05 and giving the Cardinals the lead.

"We put in an inquiry, which was legitimate, of a start value for floor that was not correct," Walsh said. "As coaches, it's our job and responsibility to put that in. Had I not put that in, we would have been on the losing end."

Eastern Michigan also put in two score appeals, but they did not change the Eagles' score.

The Cardinals (6-10, 1-5 Mid-American Conference) were led by sophomore Brittney Emmons, who had three second-place finishes (vault, floor and all-around).

The Cardinals won the bars, beam and floor, but Walsh said there was still room for improvement.

She said the team lost points by not executing skills like they had been in practice.

"We have to earn it," Walsh said. "We have to just keep training what we've been doing and just trust it will peak at the right time, which is next week."

Seniors Bibiana Rodriguez, Ashley Jacob and Megan Howard all competed Sunday for Ball State. Rodriguez had a season-best 9.675 on the vault and a 9.725 on the uneven bars, which was good enough for second place.

"I think I did a good job. I mean, there's always room for improvement," Rodriguez said. "I'm better than that on bars. I get upset when I don't get a 9.75 on bars. It was kind of upsetting, but at the same time, it's good because I'm still helping the team."

It was an up-and-down day for the seniors. Jacob missed her vault to score an 8.575. Howard fell on the balance beam and had a 9.1 but rebounded with a 9.5 on the floor.
Seniors Brittney Bauer and Laura Shockey were also honored in a post-meet ceremony.

Although the regular season is over, the seniors know there is still more gymnastics in Ball State's immediate future.

"I can't get emotional yet," Rodriguez said. "Maybe next weekend, I'll be bawling my eyes out, but not yet."

Eastern Michigan (7-9, 2-4 MAC) was led by freshman Kaylyn Millick, who won the all-around with a score of 39.

This was the final regular-season meet for Ball State. Ball State finished in a tie for sixth place with Western Michigan University. Kent State University won the regular-season MAC title with an undefeated record in conference meets.

The Cardinals will next compete in the MAC Championships on Saturday in Bowling Green, Ohio.

"I really hope we can get together as a team and make it happen: hit all our handstands and stick all our dismounts," Rodriguez said. "It's just going to be a really good meet."

Meet timeline

Team in lead Margin Why
Tied Teams score matching 48.25 on first rotation

EMU

0.175 EMU wins vault with 48.625
EMU 1.025 EMU scores season-best 48.725
BSU 0.175 Greinke, Parsley career highs combined with two EMU beam falls
BSU 0.75 Cards finish on floor; EMU's Nikole Viltz needs 9.8 to take team lead
EMU 0.025 Viltz scores 9.8 on beam
BSU 0.025 Judges' review of Greinke's floor score; Cards get 0.05-point increase
BSU 0.025 Judges' review of EMU beam scores give no team score increase; BSU wins