Redbirds Set to Host Ball State in Season Opener
Appollonia Barrientos
Appollonia Barrientos

Jan. 6, 2012

NORMAL, Ill. - The Illinois State gymnastics team will host Ball State in the 2012 season opener Sunday, Jan. 8, at Horton Field House. The meet is the first of five home meets this season for the Redbirds.

The Redbirds ended the 2011 season with a 10-14 record, placing fourth at the Midwest Independent Conference Championship meet. Illinois State defeated the Cardinals 193.250-191.975 in February last year.

Head Coach Bob Conkling is anxious to kick of the 2012 season.

"All the hard work and preparation in preseason makes me feel confident that we should perform well in the first meet," said Conkling. "If each competitor does the routine she is capable of doing, we should come out of the first meet with a very positive experience. I hope that each competitor remains confident in their abilities."

Illinois State returns 11 gymnasts this year including junior Apollonia Barrientos, who was named an All-MIC First Team selection last season. The Redbirds also welcome back senior Robin Weissman, junior Kimberly Caron, and sophomore Elise Gray who are returning this season from injuries.

"Our returners have a lot to offer when it comes to experience, dedication and desire," said Conkling. "My hopes and expectations are that they will use this experience to lead the way to clean and solid performances this weekend and throughout the season."

The Redbirds will welcome five newcomers as well, including four freshmen and Kristen Lieberman, sophomore transfer from Boise State. Conkling has enjoyed welcoming the hard work and fresh energy from the new gymnasts.

"The newcomers' contributions throughout the season will be very valuable for the team," said Conkling. "Also, this season the newcomers will gain experience for the years to come." The meet will be streamed live online on Redbird All-Access, Illinois State Athletics' internet multimedia platform. Live meet coverage from historic Horton Field House begins promptly at 4 p.m. GoRedbirds.com: Your online source for Illinois State Athletics, tickets, Weisbecker Scholarship Fund gifts, multimedia, Redbird merchandise, photos and more.