In each of their next two meets, Ball State gymnastics will take on a nationally ranked opponent. For good measure, the meets will take place in two different states, over a span of just three days. 


The Cardinals’ weekend will begin Friday at 7 p.m. on the road against No. 19 Kent State. Then it is back home, to Irving Gym, where No. 21 Kentucky will visit on Sunday at 1 p.m. Just 42 hours separate the meets. 


For head coach Nadalie Walsh, the trip is of little concern. Instead, she views the eventful weekend as a great opportunity.  


“I’m excited about it,” she said. “I feel like it’s exciting to know that we’re the only school in the nation that gets two chances to up our scores. Everyone else gets one.” 


The team’s season average took a hit after they posted a disappointing mark of 192.775 in their most recent meet. Ball State finished third in a meet featuring three teams, and perhaps most disappointing is the fact that they previously defeated one of those teams earlier this season. Walsh admitted that there was a lack of focus in practice leading up to that event, but believes that things have changed dramatically since then. 


“It was very humbling, and I’ve seen a huge change in the team mentally this week. Just in the last few days, they were all held accountable for their performances,” Walsh said. “And I feel like we’ve raised the bar. If what we did this week doesn’t work, we did everything we could.” 


Ball State coaches have been “more strict” in practice this week. Instead of working through multiple repetitions on each event, the girls were allowed just one run-through in practice. This, they hope, will reinforce to the team that they get one shot in the meet. 


“It’s been good. Our steps are looking good this week,” Walsh said. 


Focus has eluded the team in recent meets. They will need that focus this weekend.


In just 42 hours, Ball State will get a shot at defeating two nationally ranked opponents. Walsh believes that her team has not yet competed to their full potential. If they do, higher scores and even victories are not out of the question. 


“This is the group of girls that beat No. 16 Central [Michigan], so I feel confident that they can stack up,” Walsh said.