ROSEMONT, Ill. – Four-time defending Big Ten women’s gymnastics champion Michigan was named the favorite in the Big Ten Preseason Coaches’ Poll, the conference office announced Thursday.
The Wolverines were followed by No. 2 Nebraska, No. 3 Iowa, No. 4 Ohio State, No. 5 Penn State and No. 6 Minnesota. Illinois and Michigan State earned the seventh and eighth spots, respectively, with No. 9 Maryland and No. 10 Rutgers rounding out the poll.
The Big Ten also announced the Gymnasts to Watch List, with nine returning All-Big Ten standouts headlining the list. First-team returners include Michigan’s Olivia Karas, Ohio State’s Alexis Mattern and Penn State’s Briannah Tsang. Returning second-team honorees include Illinois’ Bridget Hodan, Iowa’s Clair Kaji and Lanie Snyder, Nebraska’s Megan Schweihofer and Sienna Crouse, and Rutgers’ Libby Groden.
Illinois’ Rae Balthazor, Maryland’s Alecia Farina, Michigan’s Brianna Brown, Michigan State’s Gabriella Douglas, Minnesota’s Hannah Hitchcock and Rutgers’ Makenzey Shank were also named to the Gymnasts to Watch List, along with five freshmen in Maryland’s Audrey Barber, Michigan State’s Lea Mitchell, Minnesota’s Lexy Ramler, Ohio State’s Jenna Swartzentruber and Penn State’s Lauren Bridgens.
Last season, Michigan and Nebraska clinched a share of the regular-season Big Ten Women's Gymnastics Championship after each squad finished with an 8-1 Big Ten record.
The complete 2018 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. Ohio State
5. Penn State
8. Michigan State
BIG TEN WOMEN’S GYMNASTS TO WATCH LIST
Rae Balthazor, So., Illinois
Bridget Hodan, Sr., Illinois*
Clair Kaji, So., Iowa
Lanie Snyder, Sr., Iowa*
Alecia Farina, So., Maryland
Audrey Barber, Fr., Maryland
Olivia Karas, Jr., Michigan*
Brianna Brown, Sr., Michigan*
Gabriella Douglas, So., Michigan State
Lea Mitchell, Fr., Michigan State
Hannah Hitchcock, Sr., Minnesota
Lexy Ramler, Fr., Minnesota
Megan Schweihofer, Jr., Nebraska*
Sienna Crouse, Jr., Nebraska*
Jenna Swartzentruber, Fr., Ohio State
Alexis Mattern, Sr., Ohio State
Briannah Tsang, Sr., Penn State*
Lauren Bridgens, Fr., Penn State
Libby Groden, Sr., Rutgers*
Makenzey Shank, Sr., Rutgers*
* denotes 2016-17 Academic All-Big Ten Honoree