GYMNASTICS: Seniors to be honored in final home meet
Underclassmen will be counted on to secure one last win
After a less than perfect showing last weekend at Kentucky, the Ball State gymnastics team comes home this week to wrap up its regular season.
The team will take the mat one last time at 7 tonight in Worthen Arena. It will be the last home meet for seniors Kayla Kmiecik, Brittney Emmons, MaryAnn Oehlerking and Julie Cotter.
"It is always an emotional time to come to an end of four years with the seniors," coach Nadalie Walsh said. "I'm excited for them I feel like they are such brilliant young women that are going to have a really awesome future ahead of them."
Emmons has sat out this season due to injury and was granted a medical redshirt. Even though she still has another year of eligibility left from the NCAA, the team isn't sure if she will make it back.
"She has every intention on making a comeback," Walsh said. "She has had three amazing years [and is] probably one of the most decorated gymnast to have ever gone through Ball State in terms of regional qualifications and high scores. She will be irreplaceable if she does not come back."
Cotter made a comeback last weekend in Kentucky after sitting out the previous meet due to injury. Walsh said Cotter brought higher expectations to the program.
When it comes to Oehlerking, Walsh said she will miss the gymnast's vibrant personality.
"MaryAnn has the most wonderful personality," Walsh said. "She is so colorful and so loving. Her heart for the team and program is as genuine as I have ever seen. You can't replace those things."
Oehlerking transferred to Ball State from Wisconsin-Oshkosh, Walsh's alma mater, before the 2011 season. Oehlerking said will miss a team she calls her family.
"I am so not ready to be done; I wish I could be part of it for 10 more years," Oehlerking said.
As one of the leaders of the team, Kmiecik will be missed for her motivation behind the scenes, Walsh said.
"She is the most poised and mature leader on the team we and we are really going to miss her," Walsh said. "She always knows what to say at the right time to the right person and it always fits in perspective. It is never too much never to little, just bullet points."
The bars and beam are two events Kmiecik will participate in. She said she will also miss her teammates once the season is finished.
"I think I will be upset," Kmiecik said. "I don't want to get emotional on Thursday, but I have been doing this for 15 or 16 years. It is going to hit home a little bit."
With four seniors graduating, the team is looking for underclassmen to step up. Junior Nicole Allen continued her impressive performances in the all-around competition last weekend. She placed fourth overall, but brought home Ball State's highest mark of the day: a first place on vault.