170127_GymnasticsVSUIC_EH24

The Illinois State women's gymnastics team hosted University of Illinois Chicago in its home opener Sunday at Horton Field House. The Flames won the dual meet 192.425-192.00. ISU returns to action Feb 5 at Central Michigan.

The Illinois State gymnastics team posted its best scoring total of the season but fell 194.950-194.075 to the Central Michigan Chippewas Sunday afternoon in Mount Pleasant, Mich.

Gabrielle Cooke led ISU with her second win this season in the all-around. The freshman gymnast scored a career-high 38.950 behind a second place finish in the beams. Coach Bob Conkling has been impressed by the strides Cooke has made in her first four meets as a collegiate gymnast.

“We expected her to be good, but maybe not this good," Conkling said. "She’s handling it all really well and I can’t say enough about this young lady."

ISU raised its season average to 192.794 points, trailing just Lindenwood in the Midwest Independent Conference.

“We were happy to score a 194 at this point in the season," Conkling said. "By the end of the year, I think our average should be around that point, too."

Cooke’s fellow freshman teammate Anna Marema turned in another consistent outing in the bars event with a 9.750. While Cooke and sophomore Meredith LaRoche garner the most attention as all-around competitors, Marema has been a stable and reliable score in the lineup.

“Right now, Anna is our top bar and vault score," Conkling said. "I can’t say enough good things about her, she’s a great young lady and is fun to score."

The Redbirds return home Sunday for a dual meet against Southeast Missouri State at Horton Field House beginning at 2 p.m.

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