After three straight weeks on the road to start the season, Ball State gymnastics (6-3, 1-0 MAC) returned home for the first time this season to take on No. 20 Kent State (2-1, 1-1 MAC). The Cardinals were looking to rally after major improvements on three of four events last weekend.

“Our big thing is getting out there and being in the right mindset when we hit the floor,” head coach Joanna Saleem said. “We’ve got to make sure we are going out there, being confident, having fun and do the gymnastics we’ve trained to do all preseason.”

The Cardinals started out on vault, an event they found success in as of late. The Cardinals took the top four spots on vault with juniors Kaitlyn Menzione and Sydney Finke tied for fourth with a 9.775, senior Jordyn Penny took third with a score of 9.850, sophomore Maddie MacDonald placed second with a score of 9.850 and sophomore Bri Slonim took first place with a score of 9.875.

Ball State kept rolling as it continued to uneven bars where the team saw a collective 0.300 point improvement from last weekend. Senior Jackie Duffy tied for first with a score of 9.825 and freshman Vicky Garcia took third with a score of 9.775. On beam, four Cardinals fell into a five-way tie for second, recording a 9.800. Beam was Kent State’s only first place finish of the day.

The Cardinals finished up on floor where Finke took first with a score 9.900. Menzione and freshman Tia Kiaku tied for second with a score of 9.875. The Cardinals walked away with a dominating win over the Golden Flashes, 195.600-193.600. The team saw a 0.850 overall point improvement from last weekend and set a new season high score. 

“It’s always good whenever you can start off conference competition with a strong win.” Saleem said. “I think being on the road for three weeks and being in front of this amazing crowd and start off MAC competition against a tough school was a really exciting confidence booster for the team.”

After a major score drop on bars two weeks ago in Washington D.C., the team has came back, improving its bars score by almost three points. Since the team's fall at Washington D.C., Saleem has implemented a mindset of focus in performance and the team has caught on.

“Saleem’s mindset is you have to stay focused from touch to finish,” Menzione said. “That really helps so your mind doesn’t get distracted and go elsewhere. It helps us stay in the moment and stay confident.”

Confidant has been key for this team as it looks to make small improvements moving forward into the season. The team will face another challenge on the road when it takes on No. 13 Denver, No. 22 BYU and conference rival, Bowling Green.

“Every meet we strive for being more confident than the week before,” Menzione said. “We want to aim to be better and overall want to more confident. Those little things that we work on keep adding up as we get further and further into the season.”

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