On Friday, the Ball State Women's swimming and diving team finally picked up its first home win of the season. The Cards picked up a double victory, beating out two Mid-American Conference foes in what was the closest meet of the season.
The Cardinals pounced Bowling Green 232-67, and edged Buffalo by a point, 150-149. It took a close win in the night's final event, the 800-yard freestyle to propel Ball State (6-5 overall, 3-1 MAC) over the favored Bulls.
"We knew (Buffalo) was going to be tough to beat, but we came out of the locker room wanting to win," said head coach Laura Seibold-Caudill.
"I had two team meetings with the (athletes) as the meet progressed. I told them we had to either win the 800-yard freestyle or finish second, third, and fourth to win," she said. "We accomplished that, and we met every goal I set for us in this meet."
Several swimmers won events and placed high to contribute to the team's overall effort.
Dee Dee Wolverton won both freestyle events in which she competed, posting a time of 1:56.91 in the 200-yard event. Long sprinter Michelle Arakgi finished with a career-best time of 10:38.79 to win the 1,000-yard freestyle.
Arakgi swapped places with Trina Sinclair, from Buffalo, and Jessica Humes, of Bowling Green, throughout the swim before finally winning.
"It was a great day for Michelle," Seibold-Caudill said. "She won a very competitive event - getting her best time ever in the 1,000 free."
Freshman Karla Bailey continued to dominate the opposition, winning the 50-yard freestyle and 100-yard breaststroke. Bailey was narrowly beaten in the 200-yard breaststroke by another talented newcomer: Buffalo's freshman standout Jennefer Brankovsky.
Seibold-Caudill made a last minute decision to start Bailey in the 50-yard freestyle, which is an event she does not usually swim. The element of surprise helped the young star pull off a victory in an event in which Buffalo wasn't counting on her competing.
Sophomore backstroker Kait Martin and breaststroker Tara Zimmer had key second-place finishes Saturday against Buffalo. The narrow one-point victory would have not been possible if it were not for their contributions.
"On paper Buffalo looked faster," Seibold-Caudill said. "They probably should have won by 20 or 30 points. But we were pumped from the get-go. The (women) were constantly asking me what the score was. They knew how well they needed to do and really bonded together great as a team."
Melissa Keilen, Jessica Nance, Michelle Arakgi, and Dee Dee Wolverton made up the team that won the final event of the night: the 800-yard freestyle relay. With that win, the Cards swept the meet, beating out Buffalo by the season's closest margin of victory: 1 point.
Now, Ball State prepares for another important dual meet, which will take place next Saturday at Ypsilanti, Mich. against Eastern Michigan.