In gymnastics, the beam often makes or breaks a team's performance. In last Friday's Cardinal Classic, it broke Ball State.
"That is the event that is going to win or lose a meet every time," head coach Mary Roth said.
Ball State placed third out of the six teams who competed in the meet, tallying 191.625 points. Mid-American Conference rival Bowling Green won the invitational with a score of 192.700, followed by Illinois-Chicago with 192.225.
The Cardinals were behind Illinois-Chicago, a team they beat just two weekends ago, by just a quarter of a point after the first two rotations. But in the third event, the beam, the other schools broke away.
"Every team struggles with that event at least once a year," Roth said.
As usual, Roth led the rotation with a senior. Jamie Irwin registered only a 9.175. Senior Renee Planck had the best showing for the Cardinals in the event, posting a 9.55 and tying for eighth place.
"I think it was like a waterfall," Planck said. "Once one person fell, everybody started to."
The Cardinals ended up with a team score of 46.375 on the beam, a far cry from the 47.825 of Bowling Green and the 47.500 from Illinois-Chicago.
In the final event, the floor exercise, Ball State posted the highest score of all the schools, but their 48.050 was not enough to overcome the deficit.
Planck had the best finish for Ball State, placing second on the bars.
"Bars have always been my best competitive event. When I get up there, I'm always pretty confident," Planck said.
The third-place finish was even harder to bear for the seniors. It was only their second home meet this season, but it was also their last. The first home meet marked the end of the Cardinals 20-meet home win streak. This weekend brought an end to their five-game streak in the Cardinal Classic.
"It was hard," Planck said, "because it was the last meet in Irving. I was disappointed, but not in the team, just the fact that we lost."
Ball State will host the MAC Championships, but that will be held in Worthen Arena.
"Gymnastics hasn't competed in the arena for seven years, so it won't be that much of an advantage to these girls," Roth said.
Now all the team has to do is bounce back.
"This is not a team that ever gives up," Roth added. "They aren't going to let this affect them except to become more determined."