Leeannda Wood

Hard work has been a key focus for the Ball State gymnastics team as it prepares to take on Kent State at 7 p.m. Friday on their home floor. 

"Hard work pays off," fifth-year head coach Nadalie Walsh said. "I really want them to see that."

After traveling to Central Michigan last weekend and coming up short-handed, the team is looking for a strong showing at Irving Gym in the Student Recreation and Wellness Center Friday.

A few injuries have forced Walsh to sit some of her older and more experienced competitors.

"I had to take some of our starting line up girls out last weekend," Walsh said. "There are a few other upperclassmen that we might rest this weekend so that their injuries and bodies can recover."

Injuries have been problematic early this season. Emily Wehrle is expected to be back in rotation against Kent State after an ankle injury took her out in the first meet of the season against Illinois State.

"Emily Wehrle had a really good week of practice," Walsh said. "She isn't doing passes that she normally would do [because of the injury.] But, she stepped up and put in some new passes that fulfill her requirements so we can have her back this week"

Watching her athletes grow and develop in practice is something Walsh said she loves to see. 

"Freshman Madison Shorts went through a lot this week getting herself to believe in herself," Walsh said. "She is a different girl from Monday to Thursday. It was never that her gymnastics needed to be better she just needed to believe she was better."

Having the support from friends and family will be a fun addition to this week's meet. Home meets have different crowd dynamics but the goal Walsh said she has set for her team is simple.

"Hit routines. They all have the capability to hit bar, beam and floor routines and make their vaults," Walsh said. "It is something they have been doing their whole lives."

Going into this weekend the Cardinals are 1-2 overall with a 0-1 season in the Mid-American Conference. Kent is 1-1 both in the MAC and overall.

"Kent is good. They went to nationals last year they have a good team and a good program," Walsh said. "But it's not what you have been it is what you are on that day."