Sunday marks home opener for gymnasts

Chris Sojka and Chris Sojka

For many years, gymnastics coach Kerrie Beach has tried to make practices feel like competition.

In this new 2009 season, she has decided to switch it around and make competition look like practice. On Sunday, when Ball State (1-0) travel to Anderson Arena at 2 p.m. to take on the Falcons (0-1) in their first home meet of the year, the girls will be given their assignment right before they compete, just like they would in practice.

“Gymnastics is a huge mental game,” Beach said. “They have to believe they will hit, look like they will hit and have more confidence in what they are about to do than anything else.”

The Falcons, who own a 20-12 all-time record against the Cardinals, have also had some success in previous home openers as they are 23-11. Since the 2000 home opener, BG has owned an 8-1 record, including eight straight home victories from 2000-2007.

There is no doubt in the team’s mind that having a competition at home is a huge advantage.

“Our fans are fantastic and it is such a motivator to have everyone cheering for the Falcons,” Beach said. “It definitely gets the athletes pumped up and we can see some of our best performances on our equipment in front of our home crowd.”

Junior Breanne Guy opened her season against Northern Illinois with huge numbers and is expected to be the best all-arounder in the MAC this season. She recorded a career high 38.975 in the all-around, finishing in the top two of three events, including a first place finish on vault with a 9.875.

Kasey Fillmore, a red-shirt freshman, is returning from a broken arm last season and is expected to make a huge impact on the bars, beam and floor. In her debut against the Huskies, she recorded her first collegiate win with a first place win on the balance beam, scoring a 9.750.

There are several athletes back from injury from last season. Out of the 20 athletes on the team, 16 of them are returners to the program. The other four members are freshmen.

“Our team is about team effort,” Beach said. “Not one person defines this program more than another.”

In the first meet against the Huskies last Sunday, the floor exercises were weak for the Falcons. On the first day back in the gym, they really focused on improving these, as it is a crucial part of the meet. Along with the floor exercises, they have been mainly focusing on the smaller detail, including sticking their landings.

“We have upgraded our tumbling passes and worked on endurance this week,” Beach said. “We have some of our strongest floor workers back and ready to go. We are focusing on making sure each athlete is as mentally prepared as they are physically.”

BG (9-12 last season) is projected to finish sixth in the Mid-American Conference preseason poll. In the first weekend of competition, six of the seven MAC teams had competitions, and BG had the third highest team score.

Beach said it is extremely hard to project gymnastics program’s success, but thinks the team will finish better than sixth.

“We have the right athletes on our team and they are all prepared for a great season,” Beach said. “I don’t think you can really do an accurate poll until we get out there and compete against each other.”

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Contact sports reporter Chris Sojka at [email protected]