Coming off of an upset finish against No. 21 BYU last weekend, the Ball State Gymnastics team (8-4, 2-0 MAC) returns home for its second of three home meets this season against Bowling Green (3-4, 1-1 MAC). This isn’t the first time the Cardinals have met the Falcons this season as they finished two spots ahead of them in the Denver quad last weekend.

“It’s definitely a confidence booster when you can beat a team, especially a conference opponent,” head coach Joanna Saleem said. “In the last few years, all the MAC teams have become really competitive. For us, you don’t want to underestimate anyone, but coming off of last weekend we want to be focused again because they’re going to be tough to beat again.”  

One of the highlights from Denver was a personal best score by sophomore Maddie Macdonald on bars. Macdonald took third with a score of 9.875, a 0.025-point improvement from her last personal best score earlier this season. According to Macdonald, her mental mindset is what has driven her to perform at a higher level.

“I have worked a lot on my mental discipline since the beginning of the season,” Macdonald said. “That was big for me because I needed to continue doing the same routines I did in the gym on the performance floor. This last performance was a lot more of my daily routine.”

Macdonald isn’t the only one who has seen major improvements. The team as a whole has seen its average and individual event scores go up every meet. The most impressive improvements have been seen on vault where the Cardinals hold the top score in the MAC in that event. While the numbers have been up, the team doesn’t let its success get to it.

“You have to be able to sit down and say, 'I’m not going to be distracted or get over excited or down on something I can’t control,'” Saleem said. “What we can control is our attitude and effort. We want to make sure we’re enjoying the process and relying on our training.”

With the team coming back home after a weekend out west and in preparation for the annual Royal Ball, which the team will host, it can be easy to lose focus. According to Saleem, the team knows what it needs to do on the competition floor and has not lost focus of that.

“We’ve done the ball so many times now that it’s not nearly as big of a task on us to be prepared for it,” Saleem said. “Being able to have fun with the community on Friday at the ball, have Saturday to themselves and the meet on Sunday gives them enough time to enjoy themselves and be ready for the meet.”

In some cases, some of the gymnasts see the ball as motivation for the upcoming meet. Taking them back to the roots of having fun in performance.

“For me, competition mindset has been more of fun and being relaxed,” Macdonald said. “I’m really looking forward to the ball, because it will be a fun weekend and will help me relax before the meet.”

The Cardinals will take the floor at Worthen on Sunday, Feb. 11 at 1 p.m.

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