GYMNASTICS: Ball State hangs tough in loss to No. 21 Kent State
Four gymnasts set personal bests in loss
Winning and losing aren't all that matters in gymnastics — especially if the team puts up strong numbers in defeat.
Despite being swept in the team and individual awards, the Cardinals (5-8, 3-2 Mid-American Conference) could leave Kent, Ohio, with their heads held high Sunday.
"It's great to see them be so positive and confident and calm," coach Nadalie Walsh said.
Before the meet, Walsh told the team she wanted them to be "sure" of themselves — a mantra she said the team latched on to.
While No. 21 Kent State (10-2-1, 4-1 MAC) defeated Ball State 195.95-194.525, the score is the Cardinals' best under Walsh and the 11th best in school history.
Walsh said she was happy for both teams for their achievements on Sunday.
The meet was marked with career and season highs for Ball State. In all, the Cardinal gymnast notched eight career marks and three season bests.
A number of those accomplishments came on the uneven bars, where Brittney Emmons (9.825), Kayla Kmiecik (9.8), Nicole Allen (9.775) and Mackenzie Pacovsky (9.575) all set career highs en route to a team season-best 48.725 on the event.
"We were all in a very good place," Emmons said. "…Everyone's starting to figure out that we're good. We all knew it [before], but we didn't believe it."
Walsh praised Kmiecik for her bars routine as well as her performance on the balance beam, which was her first appearance on the event this season.
All the achievements for the Cardinals weren't enough to keep up with the Golden Flashes, however. Freshman Marie Case led the way for Kent State with victories in the beam (9.875), floor exercise (9.85) and all-around (39.3).
"[The Golden Flashes] are not unbeatable," Walsh said. "We just have to be better."
Senior Christina Lenny tied with Case for first on the floor and picked up another victory in the vault (9.9). Sophomore Lindsay Runyan won the bars with a 9.925.
For Ball State, Allen finished second on the vault with a 9.875, and Emmons' season-high 39.175 in the all-around was good for second.
Emmons said the team is peaking at the right time, with the end of the season and the MAC championships approaching.
Ball State will conclude the regular season with its Senior Day, as Western Michigan will come to Muncie on Friday. The winner of the meet will finish in third place in the conference.
"Our best meet is still yet to come," Walsh said.