The Ball State Gymnastics team swept the floor Friday, Feb. 9 at McGuirk Arena in the meet against Central Michigan University. This was the Chippewas’ first home meet of the season in Mount Pleasant, Michigan.
The Cardinals continue to lead the MAC after beating Kent State University, Bowling Green University and now Central Michigan back to back. The Cardinals won 196.000-195.325.
Head coach Joanna Saleem is proud of the win and how the Cardinals competed, but she said the continued growth of the team and being able to work through high stakes is what is most important.
“The wins and losses will take care of themselves because we just need to be able to focus on putting the best product out on the competition floor,” she said.
It was a clean start for Ball State. From the jump, they took the lead, going 49.100-48.975 in the first round and 98.200-97.900 in the second. The Cardinals led each event until the final event of the meet, which was beam for Ball State and floor for Central Michigan. Central Michigan’s strongest event is floor, ranking 29th nationally, while beam is Ball State’s lowest ranking event: 41.
Going into the final event, Saleem wasn’t focused on the scores or how close the two teams were. She was confident in her team’s ability to perform.
“At the end of the day, we can only control the gymnastics and staying together as a group,” she said.
While Ball State is ranked 21st for floor nationally and none of the Cardinals received a score below 9.750 points, the Chippewas had an overall higher floor score of 49.000-48.975.
Beam started off a bit rocky when sophomore all-arounder Zoe Middleton lost balance on the beam, resulting in a score of 8.850, the lowest score of the meet.
The Cardinals ended up pulling through, and junior Grace Sumner, who was the last to compete for Ball State, received the highest score of the night for beam and tied for the overall highest score. The Indianapolis native looked confident on the beam, moving with ease on the four inches of plywood. She stuck her landing and received 9.900 points for her routine.
“I think one of the highs is getting to watch Grace up there … hitting beam and doing it in the way that she does,” Saleem said. “She’s been building over there, and I’m just so excited for her.”
Despite a few trials, the Cardinals remained fairly consistent, obtaining the highest scores in each event: senior Megan Teter on bars, senior Suki Pfsiter on vault, senior Hannah Ruthberg on floor and Sumner on beam.
Saleem credited the team’s success to their resiliency and their work ethic. “They're just on fire and just really having a good time while they’re chasing after getting a little bit better each day,” she said.
The coach said the gymnasts will continue to work on landings and chipping away at small details in their routines. She is excited to see them build more confidence going into the second half of the season.
Ball State is now 9-1, leading the MAC. The Cardinals will face Western Michigan University (7-1) next at 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 17 in Kalamazoo, Michigan.