This meet was not like other meets.
This was the Mid-American Conference Championship meet, where all the top programs in the conference gathered in one arena to compete head-to-head.
Through all four rotations Saturday afternoon, Ball State (14-3, 9-2 MAC) placed fifth out of seven teams and recorded an overall score 194.800. Eastern Michigan placed first with a score of 195.900 and although Ball State did not finish at the top of the standings, Saleem was proud of how the Cardinals competed.
“Overall, we ended up with a solid meet,” head coach Joanna Saleem said. “It wasn't quite enough today to take that first place and while we weren't quite there today, there were still a lot of great things that happened.”
The Cardinals’ first event of the day came on the bars, where they recorded a score of 48.750. Sophomore Megan Teter finished with a team-high score of 9.850.
In the next two events, Ball State scored 48.400 (floor) and 48.625 (beam). Freshman Hannah Ruthberg led Ball State with a 9.900 on the floor while sophomore Taylor Waldo tallied a team-high 9.850 score on beam.
“They did a great job on the floor,” Saleem said. “We had an amazing routine there at the beginning — there was lots of excitement.”
In the vault, the Cardinals scored 49.025. Junior Marrissa Nychyk scored a 9.850, good for a share of first place in the individual vault event.
At the conclusion of the meet, representatives from the MAC handed out season-ending awards. Freshman Victoria Henry received All-MAC Second Team honors while Ruthberg and Nychyk were named to the MAC All-Tournament Team.
However, Saleem’s athletes weren’t the only ones receiving accolades Saturday as she was awarded MAC Coach of the Year. In a season unlike any other, Saleem is grateful for her coaching peers for pushing her to do her best.
“I definitely was surprised,” Saleem said. “My co-coaches out there and across the MAC have all worked really hard. I think it’s a testament to how great these other coaches are and for my peers to vote that award to me, it means a lot to me.”
The Cardinals will wait and see if they’re selected for the NCAA Regional Championship April 1-3. If so, Saleem believes their performance at the MAC Championship meet can help build their momentum.
“We're on that bubble for qualifying for regionals,” Saleem said. “They showed a lot of grit out there today, and I think it's something really awesome to build on going forward into the future.”
Contact Charleston Bowles with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @cbowles01.