Ball State gymnastics returns home this weekend to take on No. 6 Kentucky Wildcats one week after beating No. 25 North Carolina State.
The Cardinals have faced the Wildcats six times in the last six seasons.
“Kentucky is always going to bring a very competitive team whenever they show up, they have great sportsmanship and they interact very well,” head coach Joanna Saleem said. “However, when it comes to us being out on the competition floor, we know we have to be focused on our routines and on being a little better than we were last week.”
During the last meet, the team found most of their success off on the vault, tying for first and a tie for third. In this meet, the Cardinals host a Wildcat team that averages a score of 9.86 on the vault event.
“As a vault team, we really work well together,” senior Sarah Ebeyer said. “There’s a type of chemistry amongst all the girls who participate in the event and we all know how to feed off of each other. We just hope to stay consistent and keep everything the same. When you step out on that vault runway, it goes back to the basics of what you think about when you are in the gym, practicing it every day."
The team has followed the mindset of “what can I do better than last meet?” this season. Saleem said that mindset has started to show in the team’s performance as individuals and overall.
“When we have a common goal and everyone is focused on making sure that they are committed to that goal, that helps us to build throughout the season to make us better when we end than when we started,” Saleem said. “We want to cross the line, not give up before we are there and give that little bit of extra push in each routine. As the season continues on, that line is beginning to move and we are raising that bar a bit higher each week.”
While the high national ranking of Kentucky may seem intimidating, the team is not worried about who their opposition is but rather their own individual and team success. They look to treat this meet like any other.
“Our mindset is on ourselves,” Ebeyer said. “As a team we look at our own individual goals and team goals, and that is what we go into this meet thinking of. We try to keep this meet the exact same as any other and keep chugging forward to make strides forward as a team.”
As the team comes home for the first time since defeating Northern Illinois on Jan. 15, they feel more excitement than pressure overall.
“Performing at home is an experience the girls love,” Saleem said. “We’re hoping to have another good crowd and it’s always fun to perform in front of friends and family. Outside of performing, they get to sleep in their own beds and get to wake up a little bit later. We tend to better at home because we’re relaxed and it’s a little bit more fun.”
The team will take the floor at 1 p.m. Jan. 29 in Worthen Arena.