Freshman Taylor Waldo had the last routine on the balance beam for Ball State. Eastern Michigan had a lead of less than a point over the Cardinals, and it all came down to this.

“You know, we had a bit of a mistake on that first beam routine, and Lauren fell on the second routine, but then to watch Bri as a senior turn the whole thing around, she just got up and had an amazing performance,” head coach Joanna Saleem said. “Then,  Rachel, Arden and Taylor just performed really well and did really awesome routines. It was something that was really fun and exciting to be a part of.”

Ball State Gymnastics traveled down to Athens, Georgia, Friday to take on the Bulldogs as well as conference rival Eastern Michigan.

Georgia was impressive at home, posting top scores in all the events and scoring 197.075 cumulative points, beating Ball State by 2.35.

“They were all super energized and really excited. It's a great environment to come in here and perform in front of this many gymnastics fans,” Saleem said. “They really do things right down here when they are hosting a competition, and our young ladies were super excited and it was great energy.”

The Cardinals had a solid performance on floor, but after the first rotation, the Eagles were behind by only 0.475. The Cardinals followed up floor with vault and scored 49.125 on their best event.

The Cardinals have struggled on bars this year, and that allowed Eastern Michigan to reduce the deficit to only .075. The Cardinals were forced to use a 9.275 after two falls.

“I know we started off really strong on floor and vault and had some really great performances on bars, but counting a fall is something that we really don't want to do, and then we started off on beam,” Saleem said. “Just staying together as a group is something that we've really kept preaching and continue to stress with these young ladies as we can only control what's in front of us. I'll be honest, I had no idea how close it was with Eastern Michigan until after that last routine went up”

Despite a few errors, the Cardinals were able to defeat the Eagles by a margin of .025, their closest of the season.

“You take away for this team today that they're super close to be where we want to be,” Saleem said. “You know, we're building each week to be where we want to be, gritty and staying together to finish the competition strong despite having a mistake here there, and that's a lesson that we've been working on all year, and they're just really rising to that occasion and of not giving up until every routine is completed. And then they get to take away this really fun awesome experience getting to come down here and complete in the SEC.”

The team advance to 7-4 on the season, already just three wins short of where it finished last season.

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