Ball State Gymnastics defeats Pittsburgh behind strong finish on beam

<p>Graduate student Jordyn Penny spins on the high bar while performing against Western Michigan Feb. 3, 2019, at Worthen Arena. The Ball State women's gymnastics team hosted West Michigan Feb. 3, 2019, at Worthen Arena. Ball State defeated the Broncos 194 - 193. <strong>Madeline Grosh,DN</strong></p>

Graduate student Jordyn Penny spins on the high bar while performing against Western Michigan Feb. 3, 2019, at Worthen Arena. The Ball State women's gymnastics team hosted West Michigan Feb. 3, 2019, at Worthen Arena. Ball State defeated the Broncos 194 - 193. Madeline Grosh,DN

Ball State Gymnastics defeated Pittsburgh, 193.750-193.225, after going into the final event with less than a one-point lead. The final event for Ball State came down to beam, where the team finished with a score of 48.550. 

“If you ask any team in the country, beam is the great equalizer, so on any given day, it can show up and cause problems, but this group has done a really good job this year,” head coach Joanna Saleem said. “We went to the beam, and our first five kids up just looked really confident. They worked beam like they do in the gym.”

On beam, Ball State ended up with four out of the top five scores, sealing the narrow victory on the road. Junior Arden Hudson was sick several days leading up to the meet against Pittsburgh and even missed a practice. She performed in three events and posted scores of 9.675, 9.700 and 9.725.

“To be able to come back whenever you are sick and not feeling that great and come in and perform like that ⁠— that is some mental toughness and grittiness, but she was doing it because she wanted to be there for her group,” Saleem said.

Another standout was freshman Alivia Ostendorf. Ostendorf finished with an all-around score of 38.725, which was the best at the meet. She posted a 9.800 on floor, a 9.750 on beam and a 9.600 on vault. 

“Her strength is her consistency. The way she comes in to train, the way she approaches pretty much everything,” Saleem said. “She is just pretty steady, and bringing that in with the determined focus, she brings a calm confidence to the group. We are super excited to have her and are loving the consistency and success she is bringing to the competition floor.”

Sophomore Stefanie Schweikert stuck her vault landing and brought some energy to the team early. Schweikert netted an impressive 9.775 on her vault, which tied for the best score with teammate sophomore Marissa Nychyk.

“We have spent a lot of time just talking about the team and making sure that the team's needs are being met, and we all have to continue to bring our best to help raise that team," Saleem said. "We couldn’t have done it without every person on the competition floor today. Something that this team has done is embrace their role and fill it really well.”

Saleem said the team had a consistent performance on the day, but there are still some areas to improve. The Cardinals improve to 2-1 on the season and will host Wisconsin-La Crosse, Bowling Green and Southeast Missouri State Jan. 26. 

“We had some mistakes here and there, " Saleem said. "We’ve got to be able to come out first event on bars and make sure we are hitting our handstands and making our transitions pretty smooth and just trusting gymnastics and the training they have. They were a little shaky on bars. The great thing is they never gave up, and they stayed in it until the very end and fought through every routine, which is what we are training them to do. Mistakes happen, but how are you going to handle them, and they did handle them.”

Contact Hunter Skillman with comments at hjskillman@bsu.edu or on Twitter at @HunterSkillman1.

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