GYMNASTICS: Ball State seeks progress in second meet

Central Michigan is dealing with injuries to key players

Week 1 to Week 2 is a time to show quick growth in gymnastics.

The Ball State gymnastics team had a five-point jump from the first meet in 2010 to the second. That much of a leap over the Cardinals' season-opening 190.475 against Pittsburgh is unlikely, but coach Nadalie Walsh is still hoping to raise scores this week.

"I'm expecting a lot of progress," Walsh said. "… I can honestly say that every girl made multiple, small adjustments, which as a whole is going to make the whole team a lot stronger."

Ball State (0-1) will face its first Mid-American Conference opponent when No. 22 Central Michigan comes to the Student Recreation and Wellness Center from the first regular-season meet in the new facility.

It's early in the season, and Walsh said she wants to protect some gymnasts while also getting a chance to see others in action. She said it will help her prepare lineups later in the season.

Nicole Allen led the Cardinals in their meet against the Panthers, picking up a pair of first-place finishes and a career-high 38.1 in the all-around.

The Chippewas (3-0) come into Muncie undefeated against a Walsh-led Cardinals team. They won their season opener with a 193.575 to defeat three teams in Sacramento, Calif. It was their best score to start the season since 2004.

"I was very pleased with the results of last weekend," Central Michigan coach Jerry Reighard said, "but I also know we're more talented than we showed. And that's what we want to try to bring out."

Central Michigan is missing a pair of sophomores — Emily LaFontaine and Kari Dieffenderfer — to injury. LaFontaine tore her ACL, MCL and meniscus during practice, and Dieffenderfer had surgery for a torn labrum in October.

Both gymnasts competed for the Chippewas in last season's NCAA Regionals, and Reighard said they are particularly missed on the uneven bars.

"We certainly haven't replaced those two at this point, but we do have some talent who's going to step in," he said.

One leader for the Chippewas is MAC Specialist of the Week Darrian Tissenbaum, who scored a 9.825 on the vault in her first career collegiate win.

Both teams are counting on freshmen for key contributions this season. The Cardinals used five freshmen last week, and they hit eight-of-nine routines in their first collegiate competition. The Chippewas picked up first-place results from freshmen Alyssa Wilson (bars) and Emily Heinz (beam).

"Our freshmen were very nervous for the first meet, but did very well," Reighard said. "We were really pleased with that."

One area Ball State needs to clean up is on the balance beam. It was the only meet the Cardinals had to count a fall on last week — two, in fact.

Avoiding falls will be the team's chance to compete with the Chippewas, Walsh said.

"I think they're a lot more sure of themselves this week," she said. "They were able to train having done a meet instead training for something they hadn't done yet."

The Cardinals will face the Chippewas at 7 p.m. Friday.


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