Ask Penn State women's gymnastics coach Steve Shephard his thoughts on his team heading into the season, and he will tell you the Nittany Lions have the potential to be great.
Ask Brandi Personett, and she will guarantee it.
She will even go as far as guarantee that the Lions will do something they have not done throughout their storied history: win the Big Ten Championships.
Personett is not holding anything back either, even throwing a jab aimed at perennial Big Ten power Michigan, which has won three-straight conference crowns and 16 of the last 18.
"This year we're gonna win Big Tens for sure and be the first ever team do that," the senior Personett said. "We're gonna put Michigan in their place."
That confidence quickly rubbed off on Allie Southard, who wasted no time reinforcing the prophetic words of her fellow senior. Asked if she had anything to add for the Wolverines, Southard said: "Watch out."
Personett, though, is not stopping with a promise to bring home the Lions' first Big Ten title. That's the least of her concerns. She has her eyes focused on a deep run into April.
The Lions made it to the NCAA Championships a season ago for only the third time this decade, but finished just .200 points away from clinching a spot in the Super Six. The agony that accompanied the Lions following their tough exit is the reason that making the Super Six won't be a problem this year, according to Personett.
"Had we finished further away it would have just been like, 'Oh, that was great,'" Personett said. "But then it was so close it was kind of disappointing again. So we'll definitely be at Super Six this year. That is not going to be an issue."
Asked how confident she was in her convictions, Personett paused for a moment, then uttered the six words that will hang over her and the rest of the team's head until they ultimately reach their goal.
"I can give you a guarantee," added Personett, who has predicted a NCAA Regional championship along the way. "I definitely see the best team in our team, and all of our goals, we're going to reach them."
Personett has reason to be confident.
Ranked No. 11 in the GymInfo 2010 Preseason Coaches Poll, the Lions return nearly every member of last year's team which finished ranked No. 9. Senior Rosie Smith returns from injury, and the Lions also added talented freshmen Susan Martens, Madison Merriam and Sharaya Musser, who the team has raved about through preseason practice.
Shephard has no problem with Personett's guarantee, as long as his squad doesn't weigh itself down with any added and unnecessary pressure.
"I think it's great," Shephard said. "I want them to be confident. But at the same time, I think high expectations are a double-edged sword. On one hand, it can add pressure to you if you look at it the wrong way. On the other hand, if you look at is as an opportunity and you don't put additional pressure on yourself, it can be a good motivator."