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Redbird gymnastics falls behind to top teams in the nation

Written by on February 13, 2023

Image courtesy of Redbird Athletics

NORMAL, Ill. – The Redbirds earned their highest score of the season as they fell behind to some of the best teams in the country. 

Illinois State’s season-high of 195.850 took them to a fourth-place finish at the Metroplex Challenge on Saturday. No. 18 Georgia landed tenths higher to take third with 196.300, No. 22 Illinois striked second with 196.300 and No. 4 Utah flew to first with 197.600. 

The Redbirds also earned a season-high score on the vault rotation with an event total of 48.825. 

Leading the way for ISU was senior Angelica Labat, taking second all-around behind Georgia’s Naya Howard. 

Sophomore Sara Wabi stole the Redbird spotlight for her floor routine, earning a career-high of 9.875. 

However, what the audience sees on the competition floor is none other than hard work inside the gym and out. 

Junior Kaitlyn Donovan is not only a regular floor competitor for the Redbirds, but a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and Redbirds For Change. Both organizations focus on social issues in the student-athlete community and ways to take action.

Donovan spoke about what being a part of those organizations means to her. 

“It’s opened my eyes to a lot of things that we can improve in the NCAA,” Donovan said. “That comes from student-athletes speaking their voices…and taking those voices and what they think and bringing them to higher levels.” 

Donovan’s involvement outside of practice has been able to help the Redbird gymnastics team with everything besides flipping. 

“Our meets as of this year have been officially moved into CEFCU arena…they’ve developed a new concept of ‘Pack the Arena’ and all of our meets have had a theme,” Donovan said. “So it draws in student-athletes and it also brings in more of the public to our meets. We really like that crowd going because our energy kind of feeds off of how many people are there.” 

The Redbirds get their home crowd for the last time this season at 7 p.m. Friday at CEFCU Arena. They will be squaring off Southeast Missouri State for the competition.