Trust makes it possible to rely on one another to do what is right, even when nobody is watching. Togetherness makes it easier to reach out for help when it is needed. These are two characteristics of Ball State Track and Field.
“I know that I trust this team more than any team I’ve ever had,” Head Coach Brian Etelman said. “We’ve had physical talent on the team before, but it takes two or three years for people to understand that we can prioritize this and still get along and support each other. Deep down I know that I don’t have to do a lot of mental prep work. They are a really mature group.”
The Mid-American Conference Indoor Championships start Feb. 28 and the Cardinals are going to use this trust in each other and their abilities to prepare for the event.
“This feels like a family,” Senior Bryeana Byrdsong said. “Everyone is super close and helping each other just to excel. We feed off of each other, and it is just a very homey and family feel.”
Going into MAC Championships, the Cardinals already have two automatic qualifiers in Byrdsong, who qualified with a 60m time of 7.58 in January, and senior Amber Jones with 55.43 in the 400m at the Akron Invitational this month.
Eight of Ball State’s women are currently ranked in the NCAA top 200 performances, which include seniors Byrdsong, Jones and Megan Graves in 60m, 400m and weight throw. Ball State’s 400m relay team currently has the 109th ranked performance in the country.
Senior Kelsey Walters broke the indoor shot put record with 15.15m at the Ball State Tune-Up meet on Friday. Walters already held the outdoor record.
[Expectations] are a lot higher than they were before today,” Etelman said after the tune-up meet. “I know this, we had some people look better today than they have in weeks. That’s what you want heading into MAC. I expect us to do better than we did in a really long time. What that means, I don’t know.”
The Cardinals look to improve on last year’s results at the MAC Indoor, finishing eighth out of 12 teams competing in the event a year ago. Thus far this season, they have placed first of ten teams at the Mastodon Open at Purdue-Fort Wayne and claimed nine event wins in total.
“Since this is my senior year, a good performance at MAC would mean the world to me,” Byrdsong said. “It would show me that my training paid off in all four years. It would show that all of the hard work paid off. It would mean a lot to me.”