After a rough finish last week, the Ball State women’s gymnastics team (4-7, 2-1 MAC) looks to stay strong on the road as they take on Eastern Michigan (7-3, 3-1 MAC). 

While the stakes are high, the team is focused on keeping a relaxed mindset when competing.

“This week we really have focused on what our goals [are] and what we’re trying to do versus going out and trying to chase a score,” head coach Joanna Saleem said. “We want to make sure they are focused on their performance and trying to have fun."

Meet information

When: Friday, Feb. 24

Where: Ypsilanti, Michigan

Time: 7 p.m.

As of late, the team has incorporated new faces into the lineup. This has boded well for the team as freshman all-around Maddie MacDonald tied for third last meet and finished with a career-high score of 9.800 on the vault. 

Not only has this new tactic benefited the team’s score, but it has boosted the confidence of the newer gymnasts in the lineup.

“Having the opportunity to compete and be successful has really helped my confidence,” MacDonald said. “I feel a lot more motivated to do better for my team and help them as much as I can.”

This meet will be the first time both teams have seen each other since last season’s Mid-American Conference Championships, when the Cardinals placed second to the champion, Eastern Michigan. This season, both teams sit second and third in the MAC, separated by 13 spots in the rankings. 

According to Saleem, a win would be great for the team mentally.

“Obviously it would be great for us to beat Eastern Michigan in the rankings and get another MAC win. But for this team they need the moral victory of going out and hitting all four events,” Saleem said. “We’re still working for that meet where we can hit out, stride repeatedly out on the competition floor for the last half of the season.”

The loss against Eastern Michigan last season has lingered with the team.

“Seeing them again really helps reiterate what we’re going to see in a few weeks, at the MAC championships,” senior Sarah Ebeyer said. “Last year was really a good victory for both teams. Getting to see this team and say, 'We’re working with you to not be labeled as underdogs,' but at the same time we’re coming for our own title.”

While every meet holds importance to the team, Ebeyer’s older sister, Kimberly Ebeyer, who recently graduated, was on the Eastern Michigan team all four years. Sarah Ebeyer said while it’s nice to reminisce, she is still focused on what she is there to do.

“It is a little different to not have my sister out on the floor, but I still know a lot of those gymnasts and there’s still that heartfelt love for that team,” she said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun going there and seeing my family and my sister’s friends, but at the same time I have a job to do, and I need to get that done."

The meet is at 7 p.m. Friday.