Junior Baylee Bell prepares to start her routine on the balance beam during the meet against Northern Illinois on Jan. 15 at Worthen Arena. The Cardinals placed seventh at MAC. Breanna Daugherty // DN File
RECAP: Ball State gymnastics places seventh at MAC Championships
The Ball State gymnastics team (6-11, 3-5 MAC) looked to gain redemption at the Mid-American Conference Championships after taking second last season. While the team managed to stay competitive, it wasn’t enough to capture the MAC title. The team placed seventh with a score of 194.750.
“It’s a little disappointing because if we had just done our gymnastics, I think you could’ve seen a lot different placement,” head coach Joanna Saleem said. “You can’t come to the championships, fall and place in the top three.”
The team saw the bulk of their score come from the bars routine as they set a new season-high score of 49.125 and a fourth all-time school-best score in the event. The previous fourth place record was set by the Cardinals back in 1999 with a score of 49.100.
Ball State graduating seniors
Sophomore Madison Howell and senior Kayla Beckler led the way for the Cardinals, tying for eighth with a score of 9.850.
“We’re really working on making sure we’re hitting our handstands and sticking those landings,” Saleem said. “We’re really just making sure they’re doing everything they do in the gym out on the performance floor.”
Howell, who was injured in the first half of the season, was not expected to return to the performance floor until next season, but since her return to the competition floor against Eastern Michigan, she has not looked back.
"I landed and my emotions were everywhere," Howell said. "Last year at MACs my performance wasn't the best, so this year I wanted it to be there for my team."
The team also saw a lot of positives come out of the clean landings in their routines. According to Saleem, there has been a lot of focus on stuck landings in the gym.
"We've had stick-it contests in the gym for the last two weeks," Saleem said. "We do this to make sure we can find our landings."
Outside of the team’s score on bars, the Cardinals couldn’t get the score to swing in their favor. The team saw their overall score drop by 0.25 points and deductions on three of the four events since their last meet. The team’s score tied for ninth for overall best scores in the record book.
"We had some really good things happen tonight on bars and vault," sophomore Kaitlyn Menzione said. "Beam could've been better, but we're going to work on that in the gym. Overall, I'm really proud of this team. We held our head up high and persevered regardless of what had happened."
Outside of Ball State, Eastern Michigan finished with a score of 196.500 to claim back-to-back MAC titles. Bowling Green’s Jovannah East won freshman of the year, Northern Illinois' Jamyra Carter won specialist of the year, Western Michigan’s Jessie Peszek won senior of the year, Northern Illinois' Sam Morreale won coach of the year and Kent State’s Rachel Stypinski won gymnast of the year.
Results to see if any individuals from the team qualify for regionals are still to come. According to Saleem, there are a few gymnasts they are waiting for confirmation on.