The Illinois State women's gymnastics squad opened its season with a 193.275-186.650 loss at Southeast Missouri State in Cape Girardeau, Mo.

"We are a much better team than what we showed today," ISU head coach Bob Conkling said.

"There is room for improvement everywhere. We looked great in warm ups and the gymnasts felt good, but in competition we fell apart. Mistakes were made and snowballed one after another. I was most worried about floor, but we ended up doing the best on floor."

ISU earned its highest score on any event on the floor with a score of 47.875, but Southeast Missouri State earned a higher score of 48.625 on the floor. Southeast Missouri State earned a higher score than the Redbirds in each of the four events.

The Redhawks upended the Redbirds on the vault, 48.15 to 47. Southeast Missouri defeated Illinois State by the score of 48.5 to 45.15 on the bar. Lastly, the Redhawks defeated the Redbirds, 48 to 46.625 on the beam.

Senior Samantha King participated in all four events and earned a 38.6 overall score, good for a third-place all-around finish for the Redbirds.

King earned first place in the balance beam with a score of 9.75 and a team-best score of 9.675 on the bars. King is a three-time NCAA regional qualifier and defending Midwest Independent conference champion on the balance beam for the Redbirds.

The first-place finisher in the all-around was Southeast Missouri State’s Ashley Thomas with a score of 38.925. The second-place finisher in the all-around was Southeast Missouri State’s Alyssa Tucker with a score of 38.85.

Freshman Marie Priest earned two team-best scores for ISU with a 9.550 score on the vault and a 9.700 score on the floor.

"SEMO looked like defending conference champions," Conkling said. "They were a great team to compete against for the season opener."

The Redbirds resume competition in their first home meet of the season at 2 p.m., Sunday at Horton Field House against Centenary.

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