Upperclass talent shined to give Ball State Gymnastics its first win of the season in the team's home opener at Worthen Arena on Sunday. 

Ball State upperclassmen contributed to two individual victories in the four events of the meet. Senior Sydney Finke took first in the floor exercise with a score of 9.825 and graduate student Jordyn Penny tied for first in the beam with a score of 9.875. 

Penny participated in three events and scored no lower than a 9.800 in any of the rotations. 

“I think having such a young team and to have a fifth-year senior that is able to come in and have a consistent performance is really helpful,” head coach Joanna Saleem said. “She is just really steady with what she is doing.”

Although the upperclass athletes carried the team throughout the meet, a pair of freshmen stepped up and kicked off the home opener in the vault event. 

The Cardinals scored a program record 49.175 on the vault in front of home fans for the first time this season. This performance was led by freshmen Marissa Nychyk and Stefanie Schweikert, who both scored 9.875. These scores were followed by a 9.825 from junior Maddie MacDonald and a 9.800 from Penny. Also contributing to the historic vault score were Finke with a 9.800 and sophomore Arden Hudson with a 9.775. 

“For them to come out and to start off the meet that way was awesome,” Saleem said. “Breaking the school record was the icing on the cake for that.”

Despite not having senior Kaitlyn Menzione on the roster, Finke made it a priority to provide guidance as one of the few seniors on a team full of young talent. 

“I need to be there for the freshmen when they need me,” Finke said. “To encourage them and give them words of wisdom, it is going to be good to have the knowledge to get to them.”

The lowest scoring event of the afternoon came on the beam. A team score of 48.125 leaves the Cardinals with something specific to work on during practice. 

“We are going to do a lot of beam,” Saleem said. “We are going to build and go back in the gym and just work on refining things a little.”

With the first home match of the season under the team’s belt, a sense of pressure has been lifted for the rest of the year. 

“It is just great to be home and we love it,” Finke said. “It was time. We have gone a couple of weeks [on the road] and it is just so nice to be in our stadium and our house to win.”

Ball State bested Western Michigan with a final score of 194.475-193.400. The Cardinals were able to claim the top spot in three of the four total events. 

Contact Drew Pierce with any comments at dlpierce2@bsu.edu or on Twitter @dpierce3cc