INDIANAPOLIS- To say that Ball State University had a good meet on Saturday would be doing the team a disservice. The Cardinals were up by so many points, some swimmers and a relay were counted as exhibition to make the score look better. The times can still be counted as season bests and the wins are still wins, but they just were not counted toward the total team score in Saturday's meet.
The four-way dual meet at IUPUI on Saturday was a seemingly easy win for Ball State, whose score almost beat all three other teams scores combined. Ball State beat IUPUI 106-34, Saint Louis University 99.5-40.5 and Western Illinois University 104-35.
"I thought we swam really well," coach Laura Seibold-Caudill said. "We didn't come out with a lot of excitement which I think is the result of having a lot of meets in a short amount of time."
The Cardinals have competed on Friday and Saturday in five of the last six weekends, with their only break coming for Thanksgiving.
"I think the team is looking forward to having three weeks off from competition after this coming weekend," Seibold-Caudill said.
Though many on the team are mentally and physically exhausted from all of the competitions, spirit and confidence is not something that is lacking throughout the Cardinals' camp.
"This weekend was a huge boost," sophomore Nikki Saulters said. "It gets us excited for the end of the season because if we are swimming like this when we are tired, the sky will be the limit at MAC. Personally, it makes me want to work even harder at practice because I know that what we are doing is working."
Saulters took first place in every event she swam in during the weekend, except for one. In the 200-yard backstroke Saturday, Saulters finished second to teammate Sara Hostetler.
Saulters was not the only Cardinal to produce good finishes. Eight Cardinals combined for nine wins in the 15 individual events on Saturday. Ball State also won both relays on the day, including the 400-yard freestyle relay by 10 seconds, though it was in exhibition.
Some may speculate that the ease with which Ball State won Saturday's meet comes from a week of easy practices. This is not the case by any stretch of the imagination.
The Cardinals' practices are much more demanding than they have been in previous seasons, graduate assistant coach Mike Kerr said.
The team is practicing through meets this season, not for them as they have in years past. Seibold-Caudill decided at the beginning of the season that the only meet the team is going to focus on is the Mid-American Conference Championships in February.
"We had another tough week of practice and some responded well with good times today and others didn't," Seibold-Caudill said. "I think we have to get back to basics and see what we can do to finish out the first half of the competition season well."
The higher level of practice is not coming with opposition from the team. Saulters said she and her teammates understand why the intensity at practice has increased this year and that it has helped make the team more competitive.
"I think we are doing much better than last year," Saulters said. "We all know it is the best thing for us, even though we are so exhausted. I think it will help the overall success of the team this year. Our team moral is much higher as well and I think we are a lot closer which is also helping us."
The Cardinals will look to end the first half of their competition season with a win against Michigan State University at 2 p.m. on Saturday at Lewellen Pool.