Broncos Break Vault Record, Improve to 7-1 With Win Over Ball State
"We had a great start on vault, setting the school record, and fought through the rest of the day to hold off a very well coached Ball State team," said WMU head coach Dave Kuzara. "Nadalie Walsh always prepares her team well and we had all we could handle with them today. Our team fought through and persevered.
"The win and the score we received today will help us in our quest for an NCAA regional berth."
The Broncos entered the meet ranked No. 34 in the nation, with an overall team average of 193.593, and improved on that average Sunday. The top 36 teams in the nation advance to an NCAA regional.
Sophomore Lauren Bledsoe and senior Taylor Zondervan both had big days for the Broncos. Fourth up in the event, Zondervan tied the second best individual vault score in program history with a 9.900. Two gymnasts later, Bledsoe matched her 9.900 and the two tied for first place in the event.
Four Broncos set career highs on vault, as the team shattered the previous school record of 48.875. In addition to Zondervan and Bledsoe, Hannah Brooks (9.850) and Sheila Dible (9.700) recorded personal bests.
Bledsoe would again tally a career-high 9.900 on floor exercise, placing first, while tying WMU's third-highest score ever. Bledsoe also went up on the uneven bars and placed third with a 9.725.
Zondervan won bars with a 9.825 and finished runner-up on floor with a 9.825. She added a balance beam score of 9.175 for an all-around total of 38.725. Cepeda Carter was WMU's other all-arounder, finishing with a 38.650.
As part of its Flip For Autism Awareness meet, Western Michigan raised over $1,000 for autistic research. Before the meet Dr. Larry Nassar and former Olympian and World Champion Chellsie Memmel helped put on a special needs gymnastics demonstration.
"When the first special needs athlete finished her floor routine it made this event worthwhile," Kuzara said. "The cheer from the crowd and the smile on her face was priceless."
Western Michigan travels to Colorado for its next two showings, participating in a quad meet at Denver March 3, and squaring off with Air Force March 5. The Broncos host Big Ten rival Illinois in their final home meet March 11.