Redbird Gymnasts Host Meet to Kick Off Season
Whitney Albright will compete as an all-arounder
Whitney Albright will compete as an all-arounder

Jan. 4, 2006

NORMAL, Ill. - The new year promises a new start for the Illinois State gymnastics team as the Redbirds kick off the 2006 season on Friday, January 6. The team hosts Wisconsin-La Crosse and Winona State in the first meet of the season, starting at 7 p.m. in Horton Field House.

This triangular meet will be the first meet of the season for all three teams. Wisconsin-La Crosse, a Division III institution, was 25-3 last season as the Eagles captured their fifth straight National Collegiate Gymnastics Association (NCGA) Championship in 2005. While Division II competitor, Winona State is coming off a 5-13 season, and the Warriors sent two individuals to the NCGA regional meet.

Taking over an Illinois State team that went 2-21 last season and did not record a win in conference action, first-time collegiate head coach Bob Conkling is optimistic about his team's progress over the past year.

"We are as prepared as possible for our first meet," said Conkling. "From what I have researched, I look for this to be a good competition on Friday. The girls are really excited and as long as they are solid, clean and do the best they can to hit their events, there is no doubt in my mind that we will do well."

Conkling is also excited about his first meet in Redbird country. He hopes that hosting the first meet will help quiet anticipation for the upcoming season.

"It is nice that our season begins at home," Conkling continued. "Our newcomers will have that on their side which will help calm first meet nerves. It will also give our fans a chance to see all the progress we have made since last season."

Veteran gymnasts Whitney Albright, a junior, and Cheryl Berezan, a sophomore, will represent Illinois State in the all-around competition on Friday. The pair were the lone all-arounders for ISU in 2005 and will look to continue their success in the new year.

"The two of them have been looking very solid and clean for the past several work-outs," said Conkling. "I am looking forward to seeing how they do. I know I will be pleased with them because of their hard work so far."

The first Redbird home meet will also be dubbed "Gymnastics Club Night", as several local gymnastics clubs and their athletes and coaches receive free admission. Guests of these gymnasts will enjoy a discount of $3 off admission.

"I am looking forward to a nice turnout on Friday," said Conkling. "We are offering a really great deal to those who choose to take advantage and come out to support the Redbirds. The team and I hope to see plenty of support out there for all the athletes during the first meet of the season."

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