ROSEMONT, Ill. – Defending Big Ten women’s gymnastics champion Michigan was named the favorite in the Big Ten Preseason Coaches’ Poll, the conference office announced on Thursday. The Wolverines were followed by No. 2 Nebraska, third place Illinois, No. 4 Penn State and fifth place Ohio State. Minnesota was picked to finish sixth in the preseason poll, followed by No. 7 Iowa and No. 8 Michigan State. Maryland and Rutgers rounded out the preseason poll at No. 9 and No. 10, respectively.
The Big Ten also announced the 2016 Gymnasts to Watch List, with eight returning All-Big Ten standouts headlining the list. First-team returners include Illinois’ Giana O’Connor, Michigan’s Nicole Artz, Michigan State’s Lisa Burt and Elena Lagoski, Minnesota’s Lindsay Mable, the reigning Big Ten Gymnast of the Year, and Nebraska’s Hollie Blankse. Returning second-team honorees include Nebraska’s Ashley Lambert and Penn State’s Briannah Tsang, the 2015 Big Ten Co-Freshman of the Year.
Iowa’s Mollie Drenth and Angel Metcalf, Maryland’s Abbie Epperson and Kathy Tang, Minnesota’s Ciara Gardner, Ohio State’s Taylor Harrison, Penn State’s Kiera Brown and Rutgers’ April Baker and Elizabeth Groden were also named to the Gymnasts to Watch List, along with three freshmen: Illinois’ Lizzy Leduc, Michigan’s Olivia Karas and Ohio State’s Kaitlyn Hofland.
Last season, the Wolverines won the Big Ten Women's Gymnastics Championship after finishing with a 9-0 conference record and earned the 2015 Big Ten Women's Gymnastics Championships title.
The complete 2016 Big Ten Women’s Gymnastics Preseason Coaches’ Poll and Gymnasts to Watch List can be found below.
BIG TEN WOMEN’S GYMNASTICS PRESEASON COACHES’ POLL
4. Penn State
5. Ohio State
8. Michigan State
BIG TEN WOMEN’S GYMNASTS TO WATCH LIST
Lizzy Leduc, Fr., Illinois
Giana O’Connor, Sr., Illinois
Mollie Drenth, Jr., Iowa
Angel Metcalf, Jr., Iowa
Abbie Epperson, So., Maryland
Kathy Tang, Sr., Maryland
Nicole Artz, Jr., Michigan
Olivia Karas, Fr., Michigan
Lisa Burt, Sr., Michigan State
Elena Lagoski, Jr., Michigan State
Ciara Gardner, So., Minnesota
Lindsay Mable, Sr., Minnesota
Hollie Blanske, Sr., Nebraska
Ashley Lambert, Jr., Nebraska
Taylor Harrison, So., Ohio State
Kaitlyn Hofland, Fr., Ohio State
Kiera Brown, Jr., Penn State
Briannah Tsang, So., Penn State
April Baker, Jr., Rutgers
Elizabeth Groden, So., Rutgers