Redbird Gymnasts Win Season Opener vs. Ball State
Melissa Mann placed first on the balance beam Sunday against Ball State.

Melissa Mann placed first on the balance beam Sunday against Ball State.

Jan. 8, 2012

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NORMAL, Ill. - The Illinois State gymnastics team opened its 2012 season with a 190.850-186.300 victory over Mid-America Conference opponent Ball State, Sunday afternoon inside historic Horton Field House.

Head coach Bob Conkling was very pleased to start the season off with a victory.

"I thought the team did fantastic," said Conkling. "We went 23 out of 24 events, so I could not have asked for a better meet."

The Redbirds started the meet shaky on vault, but redeemed themselves on the uneven bars, tying Ball State with a score of 94.925 after two rotations. Illinois State was able to take the lead after performing strong on floor with a team combined score of 47.875, and dominated on balance beam, scoring a 48.050 to take a lead into the final rotation.

Conkling was impressed with the team's efforts and looks for continued improvement in upcoming meets.

"I can't explain how great it is to see a team go out and perform as well as they did on balance beam today," said Conkling. "I knew if we could perform well on beam, we would be able to perform well on floor, and we did very well. We are hoping to do even better in future meets. We plan on focusing on the details to make our scores even higher and we are going to focus on making our routines the best they can be."

The Redbirds were led by freshman Sami King, who placed first in the all-around event scoring 38.300. King finished third in uneven bars with a score of 9.575, and third on balance beam with a score of 9.650.

"I couldn't be happier (for Sami)," said Conkling. "When she came here in the fall, we liked her gymnastics and really wanted to take a chance on her. Her performance was not even to the full potential of what she can do. We have very high expectations for her, and she has very high expectations of herself as well. It will be fun watching her throughout the year."

Junior Tori Sarantakis also had a solid all-around day, as she placed second in the all-around event with a combine score of 37.850, and second individually on the vault, scoring 9.625.

"Tori has worked so hard this year in preseason," said Conkling. "She did fantastic on beam and really well on uneven bars, but we hope to see a stronger performance on vault from her this season. She is so explosive on vault. She has one of the best vault events in our conference, if not in our region. We are really excited to see what Tori will do throughout the season."

The Redbirds will hit the road Friday, Jan. 13, to once again take on Ball State in Muncie, Ind. Your online source for Illinois State Athletics, tickets, Weisbecker Scholarship Fund gifts, multimedia, Redbird merchandise, photos and more.