The Illinois State gymnastics squad will host an event this weekend that none of the current Redbird gymnasts have experienced on their home floor.
For the first time in five years, ISU will serve as the host for the Midwest Independent Conference (MIC) Championship, which will take place at 4 p.m. Saturday at Redbird Arena.
Centenary, Illinois-Chicago, Southeast Missouri State and Texas Women’s have served as the hosts for the event in the last four years since ISU last hosted the event in 2009.
“It’s rare that we host both the conference and Illinois Classic meet in the same season,” ISU head coach Bob Conkling said.
The MIC is home to schools that have women’s gymnastics programs in which the primary conference the school belongs to does not sponsor women’s gymnastics. In ISU’s case, the Missouri Valley Conference does not sponsor women’s gymnastics, so the ISU gymnastics program is a member of the MIC as well as five other schools in a similar situation including Centenary, Illinois-Chicago, Southeast Missouri State, Texas Women’s and Lindenwood.
The MIC was not officially recognized by the NCAA previous to last season, the 2012-13 campaign, because the NCAA requires membership of six schools for a conference to be officially recognized. The MIC consisted of only five members until last season when Lindenwood joined the conference.
ISU’s last MIC Championship title came two years ago and was the Redbirds’ first conference championship in more than 10 years.
Illinois-Chicago is the defending champion of this event. The Redbirds look to win their third-straight MIC Championship all-around title, as junior Sami King was the all-around champion in last year’s event and spring 2013 graduate Kim Genereux took the all-around title in 2012.
The Redbirds have two defending first-team All-MIC competitors in this upcoming weekend’s MIC Championship. First-team All-MIC honors are awarded to individuals who finish in the top-three in any event in the MIC Championship.
King’s all-around title in the 2013 MIC Championship earned her first-team All-MIC honors and she also qualified for the NCAA Regional. Sophomore Amanda Mohler’s first-team All-MIC honors last season came way of a second-place performance on the beam and third-place finish on the uneven bars in last season’s MIC Championship.
Additionally, senior Elise Gray earned first-team All-MIC honors in 2012 thanks to earning third place on vault at the MIC Championship.
The MIC Championship marks the fourth meet this season that Illinois-Chicago and ISU have both been a part of together. The Flames and Redbirds matched up in a dual meet in Chicago last week where UIC emerged victorious. The two teams will be facing off against one another for the second-straight meet Saturday.
In addition, in the Illinois-Michigan Invite Feb. 1, ISU and UIC teamed up to face off against Central Michigan and Eastern Michigan. The state of Michigan upended the state of Illinois in the meet.
Finally, at the Illinois Classic on Feb. 21, ISU and UIC both competed where the Redbirds took fourth place out of four teams and the Flames took second place out of four teams.