Ball State gains valuable experience in loss to Akron

<p>Senior Duda Sales in the middle of a butterfly stroke Jan. 16, 2020, in Lewellen Aquatic Center. This is Duda's senior year swimming for Toledo. <strong>Joshua Smith, DN</strong></p>

Senior Duda Sales in the middle of a butterfly stroke Jan. 16, 2020, in Lewellen Aquatic Center. This is Duda's senior year swimming for Toledo. Joshua Smith, DN

The Cardinals felt they learned an important lesson in Saturday night's loss. 

“I think if anything, we come away from this meet knowing we can compete against the best,” head coach J Agnew said. 

Ball State women’s swimming and diving (4-2, 0-1 MAC) fell to Akron (3-1, 1-0 MAC) in its first conference loss of the season. 

Akron, a seven-time defending Mid-American Conference champion program, allowed the Cardinals to gauge their skills against the best. Agnew said his team entered the meet eager to see how they measured up against the Zips. 

“Our goal was to go in, be fearless, and let them know that we came to compete,” Agnew said. “What you want to see is a team that rises to the challenge, and we had a number of what I would call kind of breakout performances for our team.”

Two of those performances came from junior Alex Bader and freshman Marcella Ribeiro. Bader won the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:02:90. Riberio finished first in the 200 (1:51.54) and 500 (4:58.20).  

Agnew was also proud of Junior Katie Walker, who finished second in the 1000 freestyle (10:24:45), roughly 12 seconds shy of her career-high time. 

Ball State had not competed since Feb. 13, when they defeated Xavier 166-80. In the last month, Agnew said his team honed in on the little details that would help them finish better, which he saw improved today. 

“When you're tired of training, you still have to execute your race,” Agnew said. “I thought we did an exceptional job of finishing the race off.”

Overall, Agnew sees this experience as a vital part of the Cardinals’ preparation for the MAC Championships April 15-17. 

“It's good to race against the top-level competition and know where you stand and what you need to work on,” Agnew said. The score might not have shown that, but we were in a lot of really tight races, and they were excited. Within a couple of weeks, we're going to get a chance to flip some of those sets, so we're all pretty excited.”

Ball State returns to action Saturday, March 27, against Indiana State and Southern Illinois. The meet is set for 1 p.m. 

Contact Charleston Bowles with comments at clbowles@bsu.edu or on Twitter @cbowles01.

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