Rhett Umphress

Putting a freshman up last in a meet puts a great deal of pressure on her.

"Having her in that anchor spot — that wasn't something that I would have told you we were going to do in the beginning of the year, but it fits," coach Nadalie Walsh said. "It's a great rhythm. It's a great routine to end with."

Ball State was chasing its best score of the season and there was already a fall in front of her, so Amber Mirski could be forgiven for feeling a few butterflies.

But Mirski answered the call, putting up a 9.725 on the floor exercise and giving her them its season high.

"I like the pressure," Mirski said. "… No matter what, I'm going to do my best."

Walsh had nothing but high praise for Mirski and her performance.

"I think that she has a personality all her own," Walsh said. "When she's out there, there's not a person on the planet that's not smiling watching her."

Along with the season-high score, Ball State (5-7, 3-1 Mid-American Conference) defeated Northern Illinois (1-7, 1-5) 193.4-192.025. The victory assures the Cardinals of their best conference finish of Walsh's tenure.

For the second straight meet, Ball State swept its opponent in all four events, including a season best on the uneven bars (48.35).

Junior Brittney Emmons picked up two wins on the evening, taking the floor (9.775) and the all-around (38.825).

"I felt like I am back to the way that I was [last season] and doing the gymnastics that I know how to do," Emmons said.

Junior Kayla Kmiecik tied for first on the bars with a career-high 9.725, and sophomore Nicole Allen earned first-place honors in the vault with a 9.75. It was Allen's 12th individual victory of the season.

Senior Holly Reichard led the way for the Huskies, tying with Kmiecik on the bars and being the outright winner of the balance beam.

For the first time this season, the Cardinals were able to count 20 events of 9.5 or better.

"I think it really boosts our confidence," Emmons said. "We knew we were good, and it was just that one thing that was always hindering us just a little bit. I think this is a huge confidence booster that we could out there and do it."

Walsh said she thought the scores given out by the judges were a little low, adding that the Cardinals are going to have to persuade the judges with strong performances to get the scores they want.

Ball State has gone 4-1 over the past two weeks. Mirski said the team will take a lot from this win specifically.

"This is what we expect," she said. "We're really good, so it's good to see it in the score. It's good to see our hard work is paying off."