The Wolverine

May 2012

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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BIG TEN CHAMPIONSHIPS: MEN'S GYMNASTICS Wolverines Fall Just Short Of Conference Title The Michigan men's gymnastics team has been on an amazing run the last five years. Since failing to qualify for the NCAA Championships in 2006, the Wolverines have compiled a 101-60-1 record in meets, finished sixth or better at nationals every year — including their triumph at the 2010 NCAA Championships — and have had two NCAA all-around individual champions (Chris Cameron in 2010 and Sam Mikulak in 2011). There's one thing Michigan hasn't done in that stretch, though: win an outright Big Ten title, something the team hasn't accomplished since 2000. In 2009, the Wolverines tied Il- linois, winners of three straight Big Ten titles heading into the 2012 season, for the conference crown. And at the annual meet, held April 6-7, the Fighting Illini once again took home the trophy, edging second-place Michigan, 352.950-351.850. Still, the runner-up finish is something to take pride in, es- pecially considering the way the Wolverines had to fight to get it, Michigan head coach Kurt Golder said. The team started the meet second place at the meet. "Finishing in second can give us a lot of incentive, said, "We finished in second in 2010, and we went on to win the NCAA championship. This showed the guys that we can compete with Illinois and we could've won the Big Ten championship if a few things went our way. We'll be at our best when we head to NCAAs in two weeks. " Golder championships were held. Although Mikulak had helped the team with high scores on high bar and parallel bars the day On the second day of competition, the individual event " slowly, falling behind Illinois and Penn State. "I love the way we fought," Golder said. "It's not how you start, it's how you finish, and we showed that at Big Tens. It's tough to focus when you have some guys make early mistakes, especially when some of your better gymnasts are making those mistakes. "But we got down to business and did great down the stretch." The Wolverines started the meet on high bar, and placed two gymnasts in the top four: Mikulak, a sophomore, notched the highest score of the session with a 14.850, while freshman Adrian de los Angeles took fourth with a 14.7000. Their scores kept Michigan within striking distance after the event, just .500 points behind the Illini. But things took a quick turn for the worse. Consecutive poor showings on pommel horse (third place, 56.800) and rings (fourth, 58.450) put the Wolverines in a deep hole heading into their final two rotations, vault and parallel bars. On vault, Michigan tallied its second-best team score Sophomore Sam Mikulak claimed Big Ten titles in parallel bars and high bars, becoming the first Michigan gymnast to win multiple conference championships in the same year since 2000. PHOTO COURTESY MICHIGAN ATHLETIC MEDIA RELATIONS before, he wasn't completely pleased. "That was not my normal performance during the team session," he said. "I just didn't feel like I was in the zone. Mikulak, who is aiming for a place on Team USA for this " summer's London Olympics, came back for the individual session refocused. He claimed titles in parallel bars and high bars, becoming the first Michigan gymnast to win multiple conference championships in the same year since 2000. "Being able to go out and hit floor and high bar satisfied my hunger a little bit," Mikulak said. "There are definitely of the season (59.800), winning the event by .550 points. Although Illinois' Paul Ruggeri claimed the top individual score, the Wolverines were helped by freshman Stacey Er- vin (15.200) and Mikulak (15.150), who finished second and third, respectively, during the team session. "We had some great vaults, which gave us a lot of momen- tum going into the final rotation," Golder said. With some serious ground to make up, the Wolverines won their second straight event, parallel bars, to close out the meet. The 59.450, a full 1.400 ahead of second-place Illinois, was enough to surpass Penn State in the final standings for 72 THE WOLVERINE MAY 2012 things that I have to work on. I can't have a perfect meet every time, but right now I just have to work on getting my confidence up and some new sets and skills in, and I think things in the long run will pay off. pressed with the gymnast's performance. "I'm amazed by him sometimes, ing for him to have a bad meet, because he has so much on his plate right now. We're always focused on Big Tens, but when you have a gymnast like him, who's preparing for Big Tens and NCAAs and the Olympics, it's definitely stressful. And he had a great meet. With the burden that is on Mikulak, Golder was very im- " Golder said. "I keep wait- " NCAA Championships April 19-21 in Norman, Okla. — Andy Reid The Wolverines will compete for the national title at the "

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