Although Ball State (2-2, 1-2 MAC) claimed victory in seven events, the Cardinals fell short against Eastern Michigan (2-2, 2-1 MAC) by a score of 167-133 Jan. 22.
“It was quite the battle,” head coach J. Agnew said. “It was a great meet, back-and-forth all the way through. It always kind of stings when those last few races fall the other way, and you come out on the short side. Definitely a tough loss, but really proud of how they battled.”
The Cardinals started the meet taking first place in the 200 medley relay, with the group of senior Alex Bader, junior Apsara Sakbun, freshman Hannah Jones and junior Shelby Crist recording a time of 1:45.04.
In the second event, sophomore Marcella Ribeiro finished with a time of 10:18.75 to win the 1000 freestyle. Ribeiro also placed first in the 500 freestyle with a time of 5:04.26.
“To see someone like Marcella [Ribeiro] just continue to battle, I think that’s something the rest of the team can look to, and know that we’re in this fight,” Agnew said. “She set a tone for us today that we’re here, we can win.”
After the Eagles took first place in the 200 freestyle and 100 backstroke, Bader won the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:04.80. Senior Laura Wright finished second behind Bader, but won the 200 breaststroke with a time of 2:20.19. Agnew credited assistant coach Chris Bals for the Cardinals breaststroke performance.
“I think the strength of our team has been our breaststrokers,” Agnew said. “I think our assistant coach, Chris [Bals], does an unbelievable job with these guys. And to watch Alex [Bader] and Laura [Wright] just show up to race every meet that we have, ready to go, hungry for a win, and to see them get to the wall first, that’s a tribute to their toughness and what they mean to this team.”
Ball State picked up two more wins in its two shortest events. Sakbun took first place in the 50 freestyle with a time of 23.88, while freshman Gracey Payne won the 100 freestyle with a time of 52.62. Agnew said he was ecstatic for Payne and believes her victory shows a glimpse of the future of the Cardinals.
“I think it’s really exciting when you see somebody like Gracey [Payne], who’s a freshman, come in to a very competitive meet, and to see her outduel everyone else in the 100 free [style] and get a win there, that’s always exciting and speaks to the future,” Agnew said.
Eastern Michigan won nine of the 16 events, including five of the final seven to secure the victory. Agnew said the Cardinals knew it was going to be a competitive meet and thought their effort was not an issue.
“We knew, going into this meet, it was going to be tight,” Agnew said. “We had the lead in the first part, but we knew it was going to be a dogfight. I don’t think, at any time, did we get overconfident, or thought we had this in the bag. We knew the second half would be just as tough. It’s always hard. Some of these races, they could go either way, they just come down to a touch, and nobody wants to be on the short end of that touch. But, credit to them, they out-touched us in a few key races, and it made the difference.”
Ball State Women's swimming returns to action Jan. 28 against Bellarmine (3-4), while diving returns to the pool Jan. 28 against Buffalo (4-0, 3-0 MAC).