Ball State gymnastics bounce back, break records in meet against George Washington University

Ball State Women's Gymnastics cheers during the Cardinal's floor routine event against Kent State Feb. 4 at Worthen Arena. The Cardinals won 196.075 vs 195.525.  Kate Tilbury, DN
Ball State Women's Gymnastics cheers during the Cardinal's floor routine event against Kent State Feb. 4 at Worthen Arena. The Cardinals won 196.075 vs 195.525. Kate Tilbury, DN

Ball State University gymnastics is back to breaking records in its first meet coming off of four back-to-back competitions against Mid-American Conference (MAC) schools. 

The Cardinals competed against George Washington University in Washington D.C. Friday, Feb. 23. George Washington, an Atlantic-10 Conference school, fell to Ball State 197.425 to 196.250. The Revolutionaries are now 14-7, with Ball State rising to 11-2. The Cardinals are ranked 24th nationally, almost two times ahead of George Washington, who sits in spot No. 47. 

With the 197.425-point win, this makes this the second time Ball State has crossed the 197-point mark in the team’s history. This score is 1.250 points higher than their average team score. Ball State had 49 points or higher in each event: 49.175 in beam, 49.625 in floor, 49.350 in vault and 49.325 in bars. 

Head coach Joanna Saleem said it was a “solid meet,” and the team brought good energy onto the competition floor.

“They really took the focus and detail work that we used this week in practice and just came out with that in mind and performed very well,” she said.

She was pleased to see all four all-arounders at the event — sophomore Zoe Middleton, senior Victoria Henry, senior Hannah Ruthberg and graduate student Megan Teter — do well and hit their routines. All of Ball State’s all-around competitors scored higher than both of George Washington’s, with the Cardinals’ overall scores ranging from 39.400 to 39.475. 

Senior Suki Pfister was a standout at the meet, earning 9.975 points on vault. The almost perfect score was the highest score of the night. 

“Suki had an amazing vault,” Saleem said. “It was beautiful in the air, and she stuck the landing, and everybody went crazy.” 

Henry also did well on vault, following Pfister with 9.950 points. Henry had the greatest all-around outcome, earning 39.475 points, including 9.925 points for floor, 9.875 points on bars and 9.725 points for beam. 

To obtain high scores and see success like this, Saleem said the gymnasts must remember to trust their training while having fun. She said the hard part is finding the balance between letting their bodies move with muscle memory and having enough focus to perform. 

“Finding that sweet spot mentally out there on the competition floor is what they did really well today,” Saleem said.

The energy at the Charles E. Smith Center was high, with a decent-sized crowd showing up to cheer on the Revolutionaries. 

Saleem said the gymnasts did a good job of supporting each other and staying in the flow of the routines. In the past meet when Ball State fell to Western Michigan University, she said staying focused in the noisy, competitive environment was a struggle for the Cardinals. The girls worked on it in practice over the past week, so Saleem was happy to see that the high energy of the arena didn’t affect them this time. 

Since it was a home meet for George Washington, the Revolutionaries chose Pride night as the theme for the event. In honor of this, Middleton, Henry, freshman Lindsay Fuller and many of the other Cardinals wore rainbow ribbons in their hair. 

“When the college teams have a platform that is able to share supporting other humans and how you treat people and having the ability to recognize that we're unified as humans, that is a pretty big deal for us,” Saleem said.

The head coach said getting the opportunity to travel to other places is always fun for the team. She was happy to know that the Cardinals can travel across the country and still stand up and compete well. 

Ball State (No. 24) will be visiting University Park, Pennsylvania, next when the Cardinals compete in the Penn State Quad Meet against Penn State (No. 22), Towson (No. 39)  and West Virginia (No. 51) at 6 p.m. Friday, March 1. 


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