Senior Allison Buckley (pictured) was selected to the Gymnasts to Watch List along with senior Melissa Fernandez.
Dec. 15, 2010
PARK RIDGE, Ill. - The Fighting Illini women's gymnastics team was picked second by the conference coaches in the Big Ten preseason gymnastics poll, behind only defending champion Michigan. Penn State, Iowa, Minnesota, Michigan State and Ohio State rounded out the conference projections. Each coach also selected two of their gymnasts to form a 14-member Gymnasts to Watch List, which included first-team All-Americans Allison Buckley and Melissa Fernandez.
Illinois, who also was tabbed second in last season's inaugural preseason poll, wrapped up the 2010 season with a No. 16 national ranking following a third-place showing at the NCAA Central Regional and a sixth-place finish at the Big Ten Championships. This season, the Illini are ranked No. 17 nationally and return 16 of 24 routines and nine letterwinners along with two All-Americans in Buckley and Fernandez. Buckley, a two-time All-American, picked up first-team honors on vault in 2010 and second-team honors on beam in 2008, while Fernandez was a first-team All-American honoree on beam at the 2009 NCAA Championships.
The Illini begin regular season competition on Saturday, Jan. 8 in Lexington, Ky., against No. 24 Kentucky and Northern Illinois. The home opener takes place on Saturday, Jan. 29, against Iowa at Huff Hall, which will be aired live on the Big Ten Network.
2011 BIG TEN PRESEASON COACHES POLL
3. Penn State
T6. Michigan State
T6. Ohio State
2011 BIG TEN GYMNASTS TO WATCH
Name, Year - School
Allison Buckley, Sr. - Illinois
Melissa Fernandez, Sr. - Illinois
Houry Gebeshian, Sr. - Iowa
Rebecca Simbhudas, Sr. - Iowa
Natalie Beilstein, So. - Michigan
Kylee Botterman, Sr. - Michigan
Kathryn Mahoney, Sr. - Michigan State
Shanthi Teike, So. - Michigan State
Kendra Elm, Sr. - Minnesota
Kristin Furukawa, Sr. - Minnesota
Rebecca Best, Sr. - Ohio State
Sarah Miller, Fr. - Ohio State
Madison Merriam, So. - Penn State
Sharaya Musser, So. - Penn State