Dec. 12, 2013
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The University of Michigan women's gymnastics team came in at No. 7 in the 2014 GymInfo National Preseason Coaches' Poll and was picked to finish first in the Big Ten by the conference's head coaches, as both polls were released on Thursday (Dec. 12). Additionally, senior Joanna Sampson (Willow Grove, Pa./Upper Moreland) and sophomore Austin Sheppard (Murphy, Texas/Plano East) were named to the Big Ten Women's Gymnasts to Watch list.
The Wolverines finished last year ranked No. 7 after just narrowly missing out on the NCAA Super Six. They are ranked in the top 10 to start the season for the 16th time in the last 17 years. Michigan won a share of the inaugural Big Ten regular-season championship last season, bringing its total number of conference titles to 20, the last 19 of which have come under the direction of head coach Bev Plocki. Nebraska, the two-time defending Big Ten champion at the conference's annual meet in 2013, was picked to finish second behind the Wolverines.
In the national poll, defending NCAA champion Florida claimed the top spot in the rankings with 21 first-place votes. Alabama, Oklahoma, UCLA and LSU rounded out the top five. Utah was in sixth, while Georgia, Stanford and two-time defending Big Ten champion Nebraska closed out the top 10.
Michigan will face nine ranked teams this season, beginning with No. 19 Ohio State in the official home opener on Jan. 25 at Crisler Center. The Wolverines will also welcome No. 4 UCLA and No. 6 Utah in a tri-meet on March 7 and No. 14 Minnesota and No. 15 Penn State as part of the Big Ten Quad meet on March 15 (also with Iowa). In road contests, Michigan will face No. 2 Alabama and No. 3 Oklahoma at the Nadia Comaneci International Invitational on Feb. 21 in Oklahoma City (also with West Virginia), Okla., No. 10 Nebraska on Feb. 14 in Lincoln, Neb., and No. 16 Illinois on Feb. 7 in Champaign, Ill.
The Wolverines already have a taste of competition, having defeated Central Michigan in an exhibition contest last Sunday (Dec. 8) at Crisler Center, 196.550-193.100. The 2014 season officially opens on Friday, Jan. 10, at Iowa State (with Illinois State) in Ames, Iowa.
BIG TEN WOMEN'S GYMNASTICS PRESEASON COACHES' POLL
4. Penn State
5. Ohio State
7. Michigan State
BIG TEN WOMEN'S GYMNASTS TO WATCH LIST
Giana O'Connor, So., Illinois
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
Contact: Brad Rudner, email@example.com