The Nebraska women's gymnastics team was picked No. 2 in the Big Ten preseason Coaches' Poll released by the conference on Thursday. The two-time defending Big Ten champion Huskers will start their 2014 season ranked second in the conference behind Michigan who was tabbed No. 1.
Minnesota captured the No. 3 spot, while Penn State comes in at No. 4 and Ohio State rounds out the top five.
"I am not surprised by this ranking, Michigan has had a great recruiting year," head coach Dan Kendig said. "I feel the Big Ten conference thinks we are the number two team in the conference and when it gets that close, anything can happen. We are at a point now where we cannot take anything for granted and I think a hungry team will end up on top."
The Huskers, who will begin the season ranked at No. 10 in the country, return three All-Americans including, Jessie DeZiel and Emily Wong who have been named to the 2014 Gymnasts to Watch list.
Senior Emily Wong will return to the 2014 season as one of Nebraska's most decorated gymnasts. Wong captured 24 titles last season including the all-around crown at the Big Ten Championships for the second consecutive year, posting her career high in the all-around (39.725). In just two seasons, she now owns seven Big Ten titles and eight championship team honors. Wong ended her junior campaign at the NCAA Championships where she tied for third in the all-around. Her outstanding performance at the National Championships included first-team All-America accolades on vault, floor and in the all-around and second-team laurels on beam.
Joining Wong as one of the 2014 Gymnasts to watch is junior Jessie DeZiel. This five-time All-American reinforced her claim as one of the nation's top all-arounders last season, notching a 12th-place finish overall at the 2013 NCAA Championships to become a second-team All-American. DeZiel was the Big Ten Runner-Up in the all-around (39.625) at the Championship meet tying for second place on floor (9.95) and first on vault (9.95).
"Between now and March is a long time, so I think it will be a product of which team stays healthy, and which team continues to improve," Kendig said.
Nebraska will open their season on Jan. 11 against Northern Illinois in a combined meet with men's wrestling at 6 p.m. at the Bob Devaney Sports Center.
BIG TEN WOMEN'S GYMNASTICS PRESEASON COACHES' POLL
- Penn State
- Ohio State
- Michigan State
BIG TEN WOMEN'S GYMNASTS TO WATCH LIST
Amber See, Sr., Illinois
Alie Glover, So., Iowa
Sydney Hoerr, Jr., Iowa
Joanna Sampson, Sr., Michigan
Austin Sheppard, So., Michigan
Alina Cartwright, Jr. Michigan State
Elena Lagoski, Fr., Michigan State
Lindsay Mable, So., Minnesota
Dusti Russell, Sr., Minnesota
Jessie DeZiel, Jr., Nebraska
Emily Wong, Sr., Nebraska
Sarah Miller, Sr., Ohio State
Melanie Shaffer, Sr., Ohio State
Samantha Musto, So., Penn State
Krystal Welsh, Jr., Penn State