Ball State captures 1st MAC Championship

The last time the Ball State gymnastics team hosted the Mid-American Conference championship it was 1995.

In that match, the Cardinals were favored to win. According to head coach Mary Roth, Ball State fell just a few tenths of a point short of victory.

Ball State's bad luck continued until seven years later when Ball State hosted the championships again Saturday. After six runner-up finishes during the past eight seasons, Ball State won its first-ever MAC gymnastics title, scoring 195.375 with Central Michigan trailing in second with 194.975.

"It was unbelievable," Roth said. "I couldn't believe we finally did it."

To make the win even more special for Roth, nearly every member of that 1995 squad was in attendance Saturday for support.

When Roth realized the Cardinals had won the title, she said the group of former Ball State gymnasts in the stands were the first people for whom she held up a No. 1.

Leading Ball State to the win were solid performances from several of the seniors on the squad including Renee Planck, who scored a 9.9 to capture an outright title of the bars.

"One of my goals was to win bars," Planck said. "I just thought being ranked high already I had a good chance. I just put a lot of pressure on myself and kind of stepped up."

Following Planck on bars was Cassie Anthony, who placed second with 9.875. Also capturing an individual title for the Cardinals was Jenny Gantt, who tied for first on the floor exercise with a 9.9.

Gantt described the last few tense moments before the Cards heard the official score to realize they had won the title.

"We were sitting there because we didn't have anything to do because we were on the bye (in the final round)," Gantt said. "We waited almost an hour before the final results were in. We had heard through a couple of people trying to figure it out that we had won.

"A lot of us got very, very emotional about it but we wanted to wait until it was official. When it was, all of us were completely overcome by emotion."

After Gantt's and Planck's performances, Roth couldn't have been much happier with their leadership, much like they had displayed during their careers.

"Renee and Jenny have led the team the whole year and they have been awesome contributors to the team throughout their four years at Ball State," Roth said.

Another senior who hit a soft spot in Roth's heart was Miesha Williams. Williams had not been able to compete in a MAC Championship in her career because of bad ankles. According to Roth, when the championships rolled around each year, Williams had usually hurt her ankles.

And, according to Roth, Williams rolled her ankle last weekend and was unable to practice until Thursday, two days before this year's conference championships.

"Miesha is one of the best women I have ever coached," Roth said. "This year she made it through the whole entire season and missed one meet where she didn't do floor.

"She was pretty uptight and not really herself. She was so afraid her chances to compete in her one and only MAC weren't there. We just talked about it and we said she had fought it four years and we weren't going to let it happen again."

Williams placed 20th on the floor after scoring 9.825. That 20th position didn't seem to matter.

"On Saturday she did the best floor routine she has done in her entire life," Roth said.

Also performing strong for Ball State was Quiana Williams, who placed third on vault with 9.85. Amy Bodus finished ninth in the all-around after accumulating a score of 37.475.

Perhaps the most fitting event for the Cardinals Saturday was the floor exercise. The Cardinals had four gymnasts place in the top 12.

According to Roth, it was the "neatest" event because each gymnasts had worked a move into her routine in which she would raise her arm and hold up a No. 1, all in anticipation for the team's first-ever MAC title.


More from The Daily

This Week's Digital Issue

Loading Recent Classifieds...