Ball State goes to MAC Championship
As the Ball State gymnastics team prepares for the Mid-American Conference Championship tournament this Saturday, they hope that the long, trying season will have a positive effect on their post-season performance.
At times, inconsistencies proved too much for the young team’s confidence to cancel out. Momentous wins would come and go, only to be replaced by unlikely defeats.
The Cardinals opened the year with three straight wins in the MAC. The first of these came in January. A 194.5-194.175 victory over then nationally-ranked Central Michigan left the team feeling energized and confident. The Cardinals defeated each of their next four opponents, moving their overall record to 5-2.
The team looked to be on track for one of their best seasons in recent memory. A run at the season MAC title didn’t seem out of question, either.
A loss to the Western Michigan Broncos would put a damper on the young team’s chances. After posting a disappointing 193.275 against the Broncos, Ball State lost all momentum and began to struggle. Two meets later, on March 1, the team posted a 192.1 — their lowest score since posting a 190.55 in the season opener.
The team bounced back the following week with a strong score of 194.150 in a home meet against Kentucky. Something clicked that week, and they have yet to look back. The season ended last Friday with Ball State posting a third consecutive score of at least 193.5 — their longest streak of the season.
Head coach Nadalie Walsh believes that her team is in a different place mentally now.
“The perspective that I’ve had about the team — that they are capable of absolute excellence — I finally got it through to their heads,” Walsh said.
The team has certainly appeared to have a new belief in themselves of late. Ball State lost junior, Angie Hosbach, to a torn achilles early in March. Instead of losing sight of their goals, the team rallied around the injury.
“We’ve had multiple girls that are talented go down, and the talent doesn’t stop there,” Walsh said.
Sophomore Sam Santos along with a pair of freshman, Miranda Kerr and Denasiha Christian have all stepped up in Hosbach’s absence.
Christian earned MAC Gymnast of the Week honors for her performance in the final meet of the regular season. The freshman won the floor exercise with a mark of 9.95.
Christian’s career-high score also tied the Ball State school record.
Even when scores were not, Walsh’s faith in her team has certainly been consistent this year. Nothing has changed now.
“If you’re only going to hit one home run in a season, you want it to be on the right day at the right time, and that’s going to be March 23 for Ball State Gymnastics.”