GYMNASTICS: Ball State sophomore fights through the pain for event win

She could have been forgiven for taking the night off after getting an X-ray earlier that day and limping out during the pregame introductions in a walking boot.

However, sophomore Emily Wehrle pushed through the pain of what she called a sprained ankle to score a career-high 9.8 on the balance beam to win the event Friday night.

"I basically just went through the motions," Wehrle said. "I did a lot of visualizing this week, because I couldn't really work on beam."

Wehrle said she was able to block out the injury and perform in an event she said she is very comfortable on.

"Basically, when it just came down to it, I knew how to do the beam routine," she said. "I just did what I knew I could do."

Coach Nadalie Walsh said Wehrle brings consistency to Ball State on the beam.

"She's the most confident. She knows she looks really good up there," Walsh said. "But she also works really hard."

With a team improvement of 1.25 points, the beam served to be the sole highlight for the Cardinals (0-2, 0-1 Mid-American Conference), though. No. 22 Central Michigan (4-0, 1-0 MAC) swept all four events en route to a 193.5-190.375 victory.

The growth both coaches expected in their team's second week of competition was more of a stagnation. Freshman Mackenzie Pacovsky fell on the Cardinals' first routine of the uneven bars. While junior Brittney Emmons and sophomore Morgan Coslow both managed to hang on and avoid falling, their scores were still harshly penalized by the judges.

"I don't really know what happened on bars," Walsh said. "It's not at all how they performed last week. I think I just need to get the right girls in the lineup."

Walsh said Pacovsky's fall put extra pressure on the rest of the team, but she said the gymnasts shouldn't be reacting that way to a mistake. Walsh will work with the team on rebounding faster, she said.

Central Michigan coach Jerry Reighard said he was happy to pick up the conference victory, although he was disappointed with the overall performance. He said the Chippewas lacked assertiveness.

"I think we gave away a lot of things I'm not pleased with," Reighard said. "We practiced so hard last week and fixed so many things. We kind of reverted back to safety.

"You can't do that in our sport. You've got to be aggressive. You've got to attack."

Reighard said he was happy with junior Kristin Teubner, who won the all-around and tied for first on the vault and floor exercise, but he thought even she lost some unnecessary tenths of a point.

Sophomore Nicole Allen picked up the other first-place finish for Ball State, tying on the vault with a career-best 9.775. She picked up another career-high on the bars as well with a 9.575.

As the Cardinals look ahead to next week's meet against Maryland and Towson State, Walsh said the gymnasts will continue to work on cleaning their form and techniques

"If they execute things more properly, they will be more successful," she said.

Wehrle said she plans to manage her injury while still competing and contributing to the team.

"It's about doing what I can in practice without reinjuring it ­­-- hopefully getting back on floor by the end of the season," she said. "Basically, it's just holding back when I know it's hurting and not being stupid about it."