Ball State’s streak of three consecutive wins in dual meets came to an end Saturday after falling to MAC foe Ohio, 188.5-110.5.
The women, who fell to 5-3 in duals after the loss, started the event off slowly. The Bobcats won six of the first seven events and quickly jumped out to an 81-50 lead. The Cardinals’ lone win before the first break was sophomore Alex Bader in the 100-yard breaststroke.
As the event resumed, Ball State won on the three-meter boards behind the 253.35 score from freshman Madison Gatzlaff. Fellow freshman Apsara Sakbun split first-place points with Ohio freshman Mckenzie Grau in the 100 freestyle after the two tied with equal 52.58 times.
All three of the event winners on the night for the Cardinals were sophomores or younger. This continues a youth movement that has been ongoing during the season for Ball State.
“I think that is exciting,” head coach Jeremy Agnew said. “To see Apsara [Sakbun] and Alex [Bader] step up the way they did, it certainly excites everybody. Our seniors take it as a positive challenge. They’re not backing down for sure. They like racing with them and having them on their side.”
After that short stretch, Ohio was able to regain momentum, winning the remaining six events on the night and pulling away for the 188.5-110.5 win.
“They don’t get discouraged when they lose a race,” Agnew said. “They’re pretty tough, they stand back up and race. We’ve got to handle our bus ride better, four-hour trip to Ohio. We’ve got to handle it, and we’ve got to make sure we’ve got our legs under us.”
The next time the women take the pool it will be in a three-team meet against No. 12 Notre Dame and Michigan State. The event will be in South Bend, Indiana, Feb. 1 starting at noon. This will be the highest-ranked competition the Cardinals have seen to this point. It is also the last event before the MAC Championships.
“This is a good trip for our athletes,” Agnew said. “To be the best, you’ve got to see the best, and you’ve got to take that measuring stick. They’re good teams, but I know that we can race, and I’m looking forward to taking that challenge. If you can throw down your best race in a pretty extremely competitive situation, I think that is going to be pretty good preparation for the MAC Championship come March.”