Saturday, March 3, 2012

Gymnastics sets season highs in loss to Ball State

The BG gymnastics team narrowly missed out on its first Mid-American Conference win, as Ball State mounted a last-second comeback to upset the Falcons 194.025-193.9 in Muncie, Ind.

The Falcons led the Cardinals after three rotations, but the balance beam again proved to be their undoing, as Gina Locigno and Danielle Wishart both hopped off in the final minutes of competition.

Despite the falls, BG nearly set a season high on beam, as Monica Eaton (9.625), Megan Valentini (9.775), Megan Harrington (9.775) and Jamilah Ali (9.85) gave standout performances.

While the Falcons struggled, Ball State turned in an impressive showing on floor exercise, scoring 48.825. The Cardinals hit all 24 routines, breaking 194 for the first time this year.

“We’ve kind of been in this pattern where the opposing team is having their best meet of the year,” said coach Kerrie Beach. “As I’ve said in the past, what the other team does doesn’t affect what we do. I just hope it really ignites that fire in our athletes.”

The fire was lit in the first half of the meet, as the BG gymnasts again put together six strong uneven bar routines, scoring 48.45 to open the meet. Monica Eaton tied for the win with Ball State’s Kayla Kmiecik, scoring 9.8. Locigno (9.775) and Lindsay Koch (9.675) hit season-high scores to help the Falcons.

On the vault, three Falcons scored the three highest scores of the night, led by Wishart’s career-high 9.9. Lacey Swords (9.775) and Ali (9.825) hit solid vaults to set up Wishart’s high, stuck full-twisting Yurchenko.

After two events, BG led Ball State by .425. On the floor exercise, the Falcons ran into some trouble, as Ali and Wishart both flew out of bounds on their opening passes, and no gymnast scored above a 9.75.

“We weren’t quite as in control as we usually are,” Beach said. “It’s an event that’s usually really strong for us. I was surprised to see us bouncing out of bounds.”

Surprisingly, BG’s lead over Ball State grew after the troubles on floor. Stellar performances by several Falcons on beam were not enough to overcome two falls, and Ball State achieved the slimmest of victories.

While a 193.9 marks the Falcons’ highest away score to date, it also signifies another meet that the team’s goal of scoring a 194 has eluded them.
“I can’t even tell you the level of frustration,” Beach said. “The team’s working so hard and I know that’s been a major goal of theirs. But you know when you’re that close that many times that it’s going to happen. We still have plenty of meets left to get that 194 or higher.”

The Falcons continue MAC competition next week, traveling to take on Kent State in the team’s third-straight away meet.

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