Ball State Cardinals are named back-to-back MAC regular season champions in gymnastics with win against Eastern Michigan

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

It wasn’t luck that helped the Cardinals during the final gymnastics meet of the regular season against Eastern Michigan Sunday, March 17. The Ball State gymnastics team performed strongly in order to beat the fellow MAC school and become back-to-back MAC regular season champions. 

Ball State led the meet for the first two rotations, but Eastern Michigan came back during the third event, leaving a .050 point difference between the teams’ scores. The Ball State gymnasts brought their ‘A’ game on the floor and ended the meet 196.400-195.150, bringing them 14-4 overall.

In honor of the final home meet outside of the MAC championship, which will be hosted by Ball State next week, the team celebrated senior day. 

Coach Joanna Saleem said it’s exciting to know that the Cardinals are doing well because of what the seniors have brought and shown the other gymnasts. 

“We had some really great performances, and we can be better on the beam, and as a team and as a program, we know that,” she said. “We didn’t let that get in our way, and we definitely left that there and went over to floor and finished strong.” 

The Cardinals won three of the four events. In two of those events — vault and floor — Ball State seniors had the highest score, while Eastern Michigan senior Raisa Boris secured beam.

Once the meet ended, seniors Victoria Henry, Suki Pfister, Hannah Ruthberg, Megan Teter and Kelly Sulek held each other close as they watched their fellow teammates share memories and what each senior meant to them. This emotional video led to many hugs and tears from the team.

Saleem was happy to see all of the seniors perform well in one of their final meets. 

“It’s just really fun to watch them do solid performances as they’re closing out a day when you’re recognizing the seniors and all the accomplishments and leadership that they’ve brought to the program,” Saleem said. 

A highlight of the day for Saleem was when Henry stuck her landing on vault. The Virginia-native earned the highest score of the meet on vault with 9.925 points. Her best score, a 9.975,  was acquired earlier in the season. 

Henry felt good about her performance. She knew she was going to feel pressure with it being one of her final meets, but once she got out there, it felt like any other meet.

“We kept our energy up really high,” she said. “We were just focused on ourselves, and we just had fun.”

Fourth-year Victoria Henry performing her vault routine. Henry scored a 9.825 on her routine at Worthen Arena in Muncie, IN on January 22, 2024. Eve Green DN

Going into senior day, Henry wanted to have a good time. She knew if she focused too much on one thing, it would distract her. 

Henry was proud of her teammates for being able to bounce back and get to the next event with a clear mindset. She said the Cardinals’ season has been “legendary.” 

“They really took the legacy that me and the other seniors took and ran with it in a way I never expected to,” she said. “They’re definitely leaving our legacy and our legend.” 

Henry has grown this season and said she learned to let go and trust her teammates more. She said the way the team interacts this year is more involved and completely different than her first year. 

She has been thinking about the end of the season, and she is sad that her time as a Cardinal is ending, but she is ready to finish it off.

Henry is planning to take a gap year next year before going to get her masters in computer science.

Pfister is also taking a gap year after she finishes her final year at Ball State. The senior ceremony and video about the seniors made Pfister start to realize her last season is almost over. 

“I was not expecting to cry that much,” she said. “It was a really special night, and I’m so grateful for everything.” 

Women's Gym 4.jpg
Senior Suki Pfister smiles at the end of her floor routine while the Cardinals cheer for her against Bowling Green Jan. 22 at Worthen Arena. Pfister scored a 9.900 on the floor. Kate Tilbury, DN

Pfister said it has been a crazy and special season. She can see how the team has improved with consistency and trusting one another.  

With it being senior day, Pfister really wanted to stick her landing on vault and do well in both of her events. The nerves made her a little shaky on vault, but she was able to have fun and feed off the energy of her teammates and the crowd once she got to floor. She ended up tying with sophomore Zoe Middleton for 9.925 points on floor, the highest scores of the meet. 

Her goal for the meet was to have fun and enjoy the moment. She wants to do the same for the MAC championship next week. 

“I think my confidence has grown a little bit since the beginning of the season, and it will help me when I’m out there,” Pfister said.

Pfister is hoping the Cardinals will win the MAC Gymnastics Championship and make it to regionals together. 

Henry feels similarly to Pfister about the meet. Henry feels ready and wants to treat the championship like any other meet. This is what Saleem has encouraged the girls to do throughout the season

“The goal we continue to have is to come out and be prepared,  to be adaptable when we need to be adaptable and to stay connected and together as a team,” Saleem said. “When you do that as a group, the results at the end will show.”

Ball State will host the MAC Gymnastics Championship at 2 p.m. Saturday, March 23. The team that wins the MAC championship will be awarded a regional spot in the NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championship. 

Contact Lila Fierek with comments at


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