Five gymnasts look forward to NCAA regional

<p>The Ball State gymnastics team coming together during its quad meet on Feb. 14 at Worthen Arena.</p>

The Ball State gymnastics team coming together during its quad meet on Feb. 14 at Worthen Arena.

The Ball State gymnastics season is not yet over, after a school record-setting 195.650 performance at the Mid-American Conference championship, the Cardinals will be sending five gymnasts onto regional competition.

Senior Denasiha Christian, juniors Sarah Ebeyer and Kayla Beckler, and sophomores Baylee Bell and Jordyn Penny all qualified for the 2016 NCAA Iowa City Regional on April 2.

Beckler talked about the feeling she and her teammates shared following the second-place overall finish. 

“It felt amazing. We hadn’t been watching the scores, we had just been out there doing our thing," Beckler said.

Both Christian and Ebeyer both qualified to compete in floor and vault in Iowa after strong individual season performances.

At the MAC championship, Christian was named the floor champion for the third consecutive year with a career-high of 9.950, as well as vault champion posting a 9.900.

While gymnastics is score-based, Christian is focused on being the best every meet.

“I think it’s a matter of that I walk into every meet with a mindset that nobody should beat you, so whatever that score is that day is what you should get," Christian said. "Knowing that you’re the best and you’ll be the best is my mindset.”

Ebeyer was also impressive at the championship, scoring a 9.775 on vault and 9.825 on floor exercise, where she hit her career-high of 9.850 three separate times throughout the regular season. 

Knowing that senior Erin Patchey and Christian will be graduating, Ebeyer has been holding herself to a higher standard.

"If I am making it this year, I definitely want to make it next year," Ebeyer said. "I am now going to really need to focus and try and fill those shoes and do my job, just as they did theirs."

Head coach Joanna Saleem also has some goals of her own already in the works for the team to work on next season.

“I would like to get to top three during the regular season and top three in the MAC championship," Saleem said. "I would like to have a few more individuals qualify for next year and probably the year after that."

Penny earned a qualifying spot on uneven bars, but is also an alternate on the vault and balance beam.

While Penny is pleased to compete at a regional level, she had a different goal competing in college.

“I never really set goals based on qualifying for things; it was always just to hit clean routines at all my competitions, and if I could do that, it would hopefully end up paying off,” Penny said.

Bell qualified for a spot on balance beam after posting her career-high of 9.825 at the MAC championships. 

"I probably never had so much fun doing gymnastics," Bell said. "One of my goals was to be constantly in the beam lineup, and then I wanted to make it to regionals. It was awesome."

Beckler will be competing as an alternate on the uneven bars after setting a career-high of 9.825 twice this season.

While Saleem doesn't want anyone to get hurt before the regional, she said Beckler will be "ready to be able to perform."

While each gymnast will be competing on an individual basis, Beckler said they will be there for each other. 

"We just have a very good mindset toward this team and each other. We want success for each other more than anything — even more than ourselves," Beckler said.


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