The Ball State University gymnastics team was almost like a domino set Sunday; when one fell, down went another.
Successive falls on the balance beam cost Ball State as it lost to Bowling Green State University 191.575-190.475 Sunday at Worthen Arena.
The Cardinals led after the first two rotations, but suffered three consecutive falls on the balance beam and two on the floor exercise.
"It's just disappointing, really, to have to count mistakes," coach Nadalie Walsh said. "We didn't come here to do that. Especially when I know that we were winning until [the falls]."
Walsh said that the gymnasts need to learn how to put mistakes behind them.
"[The gymnasts need] to be strong until the end, and for each girl not to second guess themselves just because somebody else didn't do what they're supposed to do," Walsh said.
The Cardinals (3-6, 0-3 Mid-American Conference) were led by senior Bibiana Rodriguez who scored a 9.85 to win the uneven bars.
"Usually, it takes me until the last couple meets to start getting this good," Rodriguez said. "I'm glad I got to be focused a little bit earlier so I could help our team achieve our goals."
Sophomore Brittney Emmons took the floor exercise title with a 9.8 and freshman Morgan Coslow tied for vault title with a career-best 9.75.
Coslow said she was happy to get the team off to a good start in the meet.
Ball State won every event except the beam, but couldn't make up losing the beam by nearly two points.
"If they have a mistake [on vault and bars], they know how to recover if they have a mistake," Walsh said. "We need to learn how to recover on beam and floor."
Rodriguez said concentration is a key to overcoming the team's beam struggles.
"We just to focus a little bit more," she said. "I feel like we lose focus and then start falling."
The Falcons (4-2, 3-0 MAC) were led by senior Breanne Guy, who won the all-around (38.375) and the beam (9.8). With its fourth straight win, Bowling Green remains in first place in the conference.
This meet is an annual reunion of sorts for Walsh and Bowling Green coach Kerrie Beach. Walsh served as Beach's assistant at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh from 2001 to 2003. Both took head coaching duties at their respective schools in 2008.
Walsh said it can be hard to compete against someone with whom she used to coach.
"Honestly, it makes my heart sink to have to lose a meet to somebody you're so close with," she said. "You want to come out on top. But it doesn't hurt any worse now because she's my friend than if it was a different team."
Walsh is now 0-3 against her former mentor during the regular season. Ball State defeated Bowling Green in the 2008 MAC Championships.
Ball State will return to action next Sunday when it hosts Texas Woman's University and Illinois State University.
"I need to challenge my depth more in practice," Walsh said. "Just challenge them more and make them really, really earn it."