Back-to-Back Champs: U-M, Mikulak Win Big Ten Conference Crowns
Sam Mikulak

March 28, 2014

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Site: Lincoln, Neb. (Bob Devaney Sports Center)
Event: Big Ten Championships (Team & All-Around Finals)
U-M Team Standing: 1st Place of 7 Teams (448.200 points)
Next U-M Meet: Saturday, March 29 -- at Big Ten Championships - Individual Finals (Lincoln, Neb.), 4 p.m. CDT

LINCOLN, Neb. -- The No. 4-ranked University of Michigan men's gymnastics team (25-0) captured the 17th Big Ten title in program history -- and second straight -- with a team score of 448.200 on Friday (April 28) at Nebraska's Bob Devaney Sports Center.

The team win is also the first back-to-back Big Ten titles for the program since 1999-2000. Senior Sam Mikulak (Corona del Mar, Calif./Corona del Mar) scored the highest all-around score in NCAA history with a 93.70 and also set the NCAA record on parallel bars with a 16.10 en route to the third Big Ten all-around championship of his career. Mikulak also becomes the first Big Ten gymnast since Blaine Wilson (1994-96) to win three Big Ten all-around titles in his career.

The Wolverines began the night with an NCAA best and season high on vault with a 75.80, where reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Week Tristian Perez-Rivera (Caguas, Puerto Rico/Notre Dame) scored a career-high 15.30 with a stuck Kasamatsu 3/2. Additionally, Mikulak scored a 15.25 in the anchor position.

Rotation two saw U-M head to parallel bars, where Mikulak reclaimed his NCAA record on the event that he previously marked at least season's Big Ten Championships with a 16.10. Classmate Jordan Gaarenstroom (Laguna Hills, Calif./Halstrom) led off with a career-high 14.90, while graduate student Syque Caesar (Port Saint Lucie, Fla./Lincoln Park Academy) followed with a 15.40 as the Wolverines marked a 75.35 as a team.

Michigan then went on to score of 73.05 on high bar, where Mikulak tallied the highest score in the NCAA this season with a 16.00. U-M then followed with a 74.75 on floor without the 2013 Big Ten champion on the event -- junior Stacey Ervin (Taylor, Mich./Truman), who suffered an injury earlier in the night on parallel bars. Freshman Anthony Stefanelli (Holbrook, N.Y./Sachem East) and Gaarenstroom helped bridge the gap with matching 14.70s, while Perez-Rivera (14.90) and Mikulak (15.70) both excelled on the exercise as well.

Following the bye rotation, U-M notched a 73.10 on pommels, led by a 15.30 from Mikulak and a 15.00 from senior Matt Freeman (Canton, Mich./Plymouth) as U-M held a comfortable lead heading into the final rotation on rings.

The Wolverines sealed the championship with an electrifying still rings performance, as junior Colin Mahar (Dearborn Heights, Mich./Crestwood) led off with a career-high 15.30, while Freeman and Gaarenstroom marked identical 15.00s. Senior Alex Bubnov (Fanwood, N.J./Scotch Plains-Fanwood) then collected a career high of his own with a 15.50, while Mikulak closed out his record-setting night with a 15.35. In total, the Wolverines notched a 76.15, which is a season high for the team and is the top score in the country this season on the event.

2014 Big Ten Men's Gymnastics Champions

In total, Wolverines will compete in 21 routines in Saturday's (March 29) individual finals: Caesar (vault, parallel bars, high bar), Mikulak (all six events), Paul Rizkalla Jr. (vault), Perez-Rivera (vault, floor), Konner Ackerman (vault), Jordan Gaarenstroom (parallel bars, still rings), Dylan Hunter (parallel bars, pommel horse), Colin Mahar (still rings), Bubnov (still rings), Nolan Novak (pommel horse) and Freeman (pommel horse). The 4 p.m. CDT competition will once again be shown live via the Big Ten Network.

Team StandingsFXPHSRVTPBHBFinal
Ohio State74.25072.15072.30073.75074.00074.600441.050
Penn State73.70071.45074.00075.10073.90069.850438.000
Iowa 71.50066.75074.25072.55071.90068.650425.600

Event Winners/U-M Finishers

VAULT (75.80)
Syque Caesar            15.15*
Paul Rizkalla Jr.       15.15*
Tristian Perez-Rivera   15.30*
Konner Ackerman         14.95*
Sam Mikulak             15.25*
Jordan Gaarenstroom     14.90*
Stacey Ervin            14.10
Nick Hunter             14.85*
Syque Caesar            15.40*
Sam Mikulak             16.10*
HIGH BAR (73.05)
Matt Freeman            13.90
Konner Ackerman         14.20
Nick Hunter             14.05
Syque Caesar            14.90*
Sam Mikulak             16.00*
FLOOR (74.75)  
Anthony Stefanelli      14.70
Jordan Gaarenstroom     14.70
Tristian Perez-Rivera   14.90*
Syque Caesar            14.75
Sam Mikulak             15.70*
Nolan Novak             14.80*
Matt Freeman            15.00*
Nick Hunter             14.70*
Dylan James             13.30
Sam Mikulak             15.30*
STILL RINGS (76.15) 
Colin Mahar             15.30*
Matt Freeman            15.00
Jordan Gaarenstroom     15.00
Alex Bubnov             15.50*
Sam Mikulak             15.35*
Sam Mikulak             93.70 (1)
* individual-event final qualifiers


• The last defeat Michigan suffered was on March 9, 2013, and is now 42-0 over that span.

Sam Mikulak's 16.00 on parallel bars is .10 off of his career high of 16.10.

• The championship is the fifth of Kurt Golder's career (1999, 2000, 2009, 2013, 2014).

• The 21 event finalists are the most of any team, two more than last season's winning team.

• Both Mikulak (high bar) and Syque Caesar (parallel bars) earn a chance to defend their 2013 crowns on the respective events. A win for Mikulak on bar would make him the first Big Ten gymnast since Bob Darden (1974-76, Michigan) to win three high-bar titles in their careers. A win for Caesar on p-bars would mark the first time a Big Ten gymnast has won three Big Ten titles since Arno Lascari (1962-64, Michigan) and the first back-to-back winner on the event since Justin Toman (1998-99).

• Mikulak could also become only the third gymnast (John Roethlisberger, Blaine Wilson) to take three Big Ten Gymnast of the Year honors since the award's inception in 1988.

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