Rhett Umphress

You have to take care of yourself before you can take care of your team.

That has been the attitude of the Ball State gymnastics team in practice this week. After being unable to put together a well-rounded meet so far this season, coach Nadalie Walsh and the Cardinals are going with a more egocentric approach.

"I'm just having them work on their own more," Walsh said. "Less of them working together as a team, and helping them understand that what they do doesn't really affect what the other person does."

The Cardinals will find out if their "me-first" approach works during a unique weekend.

Ball State will compete twice this weekend. First, it will face Illinois State, Seattle Pacific and Wisconsin-La Crosse on Friday. Ball State will then head east for a Mid-American Conference showdown with Bowling Green on Sunday.

Sophomore Nicole Allen said she can't remember have two meets in three days during her gymnastics career.

"I think it's something completely different. In club, I never did two meets in one weekend, let alone one right after another," she said.

The balance beam has been the key problem the past few weeks. Walsh said she wants each gymnast to put the other Cardinals' routines out of her mind and just perform for herself. She said that attitude can lead to a successful event this weekend.

Ball State will have to accomplish its goals for the rest of the season without one of its best gymnast. Sophomore Tiffany Brodbeck tore her Achilles tendon last weekend during the floor exercise and will be out for the remainder of the season.

Even without Brodbeck, Friday represents a good chance for the Cardinals (1-6) to pick up a pair of victories. While Ball State has already lost once to Illinois State (6-5) this season, the Cardinals average a 191.085, while Seattle Pacific (0-10) is at 188.954 and Wisconsin-La Crosse (9-5) has a 181.354 per meet score.

Allen said practice hasn't been less strenuous going into the pair of meets, but the Cardinals are trying to take better care of themselves.

"A lot of us have just been spending a lot of time in the training room, eating right, getting rest," she said. "I think that's all you can do."

Walsh said she thinks the tempo of practice has been positive and doesn't want to change that.

"We've had some of our best scores on the other three events [than beam]," she said. "Just because all of four of them haven't pulled together doesn't mean we need to have a huge change."

Yet again, Ball State will see if its week of work shows results Friday night.