On Friday, Ball State opened the 2023-24 season as the Cardinals competed in five events at the Saginaw Valley State University Holiday Open.
“It’s great to get the season started,” Wheatley said. “Any opportunity you have a chance to compete, our ladies really enjoy that opportunity.”
The Cardinals are a hefty underclass-laden team this season. Wheatley has taken to the challenge of preparing the underclassmen and integrating them into what he’s building.
“Any time you can bring new people into the program and get them exposed to the Ball State culture, that allows us that opportunity to continue to grow on what we’re doing,” Wheatley said.
One of those underclassmen, freshman Ashley Pernecker, excelled in her first meet as a Cardinal. In her first event, the 400-meter dash, she posted a time of 59.35 seconds, which was best for 6th overall.
“I was really happy with my season opener,” Pernecker said. “It was my first race back all year. My goal was to run under 60 seconds, so getting a 59 felt really good.”
Pernecker, originally from Australia, experienced her first indoor track meet and embraced the experience that comes with coming from overseas.
“It’s been a really positive experience,” Pernecker said. “I’ve fit in really well with my team. Having supportive coaches and friends, it’s like one giant family.”
Pernecker also competed in the 4 by 400 meter relay alongside sophomore teammates Evie Noel, and Maci Easton. The Cardinals finished in fifth place.
Noel made her presence felt at the meet during the 800-meter run. She came in 2nd overall with a time of 2:22.17.
“It was great to come in and run like that,” Noel said. “I know that my times are just going to keep falling and I’m going to keep getting faster. It was definitely good for my confidence.”
In her two events, Easton placed 24th in the 400-meter dash and 29th in the 200-meter.
Wheatley was overall pleased by the effort of his runners at today's meet. In his eyes, the marks don’t always tell the full story.
“It’s tough in our sport [because] the marks don’t necessarily reflect what individuals do,” Wheatley said. “[Maci Easton] did a great job of putting herself in a position to compete, I was pleased with her performance.”
Ball State will be back in action when the Cardinals travel to Bowling Green on December 9th for Bowling Green State University’s Tom Wright Open.
Contact David Moore with comments at email@example.com or on X @gingninj63