PARK RIDGE, Ill. Ohio State has been voted as the Big Ten Conference favorite for the 2009 season by the coaches. Michigan was selected second, followed by Illinois, Penn State, Minnesota and Iowa. A 12-person Preseason All-Big Ten team was also selected.
The third-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes return 12 gymnasts from their 2008 squad. The Scarlet and Gray finished third at the 2008 Big Ten Championships, extending the program’s record to 22-consecutive years of placing in the conference’s top three. After relinquishing the conference crown for the first time in three seasons last April, the Buckeyes will look to reclaim their spot atop the Big Ten under the leadership of two Preseason All-Big Ten selections in All-American Jake Bateman and all-arounder Brandon Wynn.
For the second consecutive year, Michigan is selected to finish second in the conference and ranked sixth in the nation as it entered the 2009 campaign. The Wolverines return three-All Americans in David Chan, Phil Goldberg and Thomas Kelley. The Maize and Blue finished fourth at the Big Ten Championships and sixth at the NCAA Championships in 2008, marking the ninth time in 10 seasons that the Wolverines have placed among the Super Six in the Kurt Golder era. The 2009 squad will look to a pair of Preseason All-Big Ten picks in Kelley and Chris Cameron for leadership as it enters the season.
Ranked fourth in the nation, Illinois was selected to finish third in the conference by the coaches. The Illini are coming off a stirring 2008 campaign, where they finished runner-up at the Big Ten Championships and third at the NCAA Championships. The 2009 Preseason All-Big Ten selections include a pair of sensational sophomores in 2008 NCAA High Bar champion Paul Ruggeri and 2008 Big Ten Pommel Horse Champion Daniel Ribeiro. The winning tandem is two of the four All-Americans returning to the Illini squad this season.
Selected fourth in the conference by the coaches, Penn State is coming off an impressive 2008 season when it claimed top honors at the Big Ten Championships last April. Although the fifth-ranked Nittany Lions experienced significant losses from their 2008 Big Ten Championship squad, they will return 2008 NCAA All-Around Champion and Big Ten Gymnast of the Year Casey Sandy, who will look to lead the Lions in his senior campaign. In addition to Sandy, captain Josh Borromeo was also named to this year’s Preseason All-Big Ten team.
The 2009 edition of the Minnesota men’s gymnastics team opened the season at No. 8 in the nation and was picked to finish fifth in the Big Ten. The Golden Gophers return this season after finishing fifth at the 2008 Big Ten Championships and eighth at last year’s NCAA Championships, narrowly missing the team finals. Featured in this year’s Preseason All-Conference selections are a pair of All-Americans in captain Kit Beikmann and high bar standout Cole Storer. Minnesota will welcome the nation’s top collegiate men’s gymnastics teams to the Twin Cities this year, as the Golden Gophers prepares to host the NCAA Men’s Gymnastics Championships, April 16-18.
Iowa rounds out this year’s crop of Big Ten teams, but boasted a No. 9 national ranking to open the 2009 campaign. Preseason All-Big Ten picks Geoff Reins and Mike Jiang will look to lead the Hawkeyes, who placed sixth at the Big Ten Championships last season while earning their 40th postseason berth to the NCAA Championships.
2009 BIG TEN PRESEASON POLL
1. Ohio State
4. Penn State
2009 PRESEASON ALL-BIG TEN MEN’S GYMNASTICS TEAM
Paul Ruggeri, Illinois
Daniel Ribeiro, Illinois
Geoff Reins, Iowa
Mike Jiang, Iowa
Thomas Kelley, Michigan
Chris Cameron, Michigan
Cole Storer, Minnesota
Kit Beikmann, Minnesota
Jake Bateman, Ohio State
Brandon Wynn, Ohio State
Casey Sandy, Penn State
Josh Borromeo, Penn State