Redbird Gymnastics Hosts Ball State in Season Opener
Sami King
Sami King

Jan. 3, 2014

NORMAL, Ill. - The Illinois State gymnastics team will open the 2014 season on Saturday, Jan. 4, at 4 p.m., when it hosts Ball State at Horton Field House.

ISU returns several key members from last year's second-place Midwest Independent Conference championship team, while also bringing in a talented freshman class. Sami King will return for her junior season, looking to defend her title as Midwest Independent Conference all-around champion and advance to her third NCAA Regional.

Head coach Bob Conkling, who is beginning his ninth season as leader of the Redbird gymnastics program, is pleased with the development and improvement the team has shown over the past few weeks of training.

"The team has made significant strides in the past few weeks and we are ready for our first meet," said Conkling. "I do wish everyone was healthy, and I am somewhat concerned with our depth on each of the four events, but it does seem that we do have some team members stepping up."

Featuring a large roster of 23 gymnasts, Ball State also begins its 2014 season by facing ISU. Ball State finished the 2013-2014 season with a 6-11 overall record and 3-3 in the Mid-American Conference. Denasiha Christian, a sophomore, will return for the Cardinals after taking third place on vault at the MAC championships with a score of 9.850 last year.

"Ball State's team has a new coach this season and there are a lot of unknowns since this is also their first meet of the season," said Conkling. "I expect them to be deep on each event and have a strong team."

Following Saturday's season opener, the Redbirds will travel to compete against Iowa State at the Hilton Coliseum on Jan. 10. The Cyclone's 15 gymnast roster is led by senior Michelle Shealy who placed fifth at the NCAA Finals last season on the beam.

The team welcomes Reggie's Kids Club members to Saturday's meet against Ball State for its annual Kids Club Day. Beginning at 3 p.m., Reggie's Fun Zone will be open for kids to enjoy ISU themed coloring sheets, Reggie tattoos and an inflatable bounce house. Following the end of the meet, the entire Illinois State gymnastics team will be signing autographs on the floor. Admission is free for all club members and the entire family for this season.



Fans can also watch Saturday's meet live on, the live video streaming platform for Illinois State Athletics. With a monthly or yearly subscription, gymnastics fans can view all Redbird home meets and get exclusive free value-added features, such as student-athlete and coaches' interviews, meet recaps and much more. Your online source for Illinois State Athletics, tickets, Weisbecker Scholarship Fund gifts, multimedia, Redbird merchandise, photos and more.