U-M On Top after NCAA Qualifier, Looks to Defend Title Friday
Syque Caesar

April 10, 2014

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Site: Ann Arbor, Mich. (Crisler Center)
Event: NCAA Championships (Session II Qualifier)
Score: 1st Place of 6 Teams (444.100)
Attendance: 2,552
Next U-M Meet: Friday, April 11 -- at NCAA Championships - Team & All-Around Finals (Crisler Center), 7 p.m.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The No. 3-ranked University of Michigan men's gymnastics team (30-0) compiled a team score of 444.100 in session two of the NCAA Championships Qualifier on Thursday (April 10) en route to earning the top overall team spot in qualification inside Crisler Center. U-M now advances to Friday night's (April 11, 7 p.m.) team and all-around finals.

Michigan posted the highest team scores on parallel bars (75.500), high bars (72.350), pommel horse (73.400) and vault (75.100). U-M earned the highest individual marks in as many events -- senior Sam Mikulak (Corona del Mar, Calif./Corona del Mar) with a 15.650 on parallel bars and 15.500 on pommel horse; Stacey Ervin (Taylor, Mich./Truman) with a 15.600 on the floor; and graduate-student Syque Caesar (Port St. Lucie, Fla./Lincoln Park Academy) with a 15.600 on high bar.

Michigan quickly took the lead after the first rotation with its second-best team vault score of the season (75.100). Junior Paul Rizkalla Jr. (Westfield, N.J./Westfield) led the Wolverines with a 15.200 as he hit his Kasamatsu 3/2, while Mikulak and sophomore Konner Ackerman (Des Moines, Wash./Mount Rainier) both posted 15.050.

U-M added to its lead thanks to a 15.650 from Mikulak on parallel bars in the second rotation -- the Big Ten Gymnast of the Year had a nearly flawless set highlighted by a huge giant suarez straight into a front 1 1/4 to long hang. Caesar and junior Nick Hunter (Canfield, Ohio/Canfield) each garnered a 15.200 to give Michigan another second-highest score of the season in as many events with a 75.500 on the apparatus.

A stuck double layout 1/1 dismount by Caesar on high bar was rewarded with a 15.600 and helped Michigan hold on to its three-point lead over rival Ohio State after the third rotation. Mikulak earned U-M's second-best score on high bar with a 14.400 and added to the team's total of 222.950 halfway through the meet.

U-M finished the fourth rotation with a total score of 297.200 and a five-point lead over the Buckeyes. Although the Maize and Blue posted one of its lower team scores of the year on the floor, Ervin led the squad with 15.600 by sticking his Arabian double tuck dismount. His mark was the highest score on the apparatus in both of the day's sessions.

A strong lineup on the pommel horse (73.400) maintained Michigan's five-point lead as it headed into the final rotation. The team was paced by Mikulak, who tallied a day-best 15.500 on the event, while sophomore Nolan Novak (Albuquerque, N.M./Valley) boasted a career-high 15.050 by nailing his triple Russian dismount.

The Wolverines concluded the evening on the rings where they solidified the highest total score of the day with a 444.100. Senior Jordan Gaarenstroom (Laguna Hills, Calif./Halstrom) received the team's highest mark with a 14.950. His strong maltese positions gave U-M a solid advantage heading into the team finals on Friday.

U-M now turns its attention to the 2014 team and all-around finals, where the Wolverines look to defend their 2013 NCAA team championship, and Mikulak looks to defend his 2013 NCAA all-around championship Friday (April 11) at 7 p.m. U-M is looking to become the first back-to-back NCAA champions for any U-M sport since trampoline accomplished the feat in 1959-60, while Mikulak is looking for his third NCAA All-Around title, as he has won titles in 2011 and 2013.

Tickets are available for purchase online, on-site of the event, by phone (734-764-0247 or 866-296-MTIX) and at the Michigan Athletics Ticket Office, located in Marie Hartwig Building at 1100 South State Street.

U-M Individual Scores

FLOOR EXERCISE (74.25)           
Hub Humphrey           14.65
Tristian Perez-Rivera  14.90
Anthony Stefanelli     14.45
Stacey Ervin           15.60
Sam Mikulak            14.65
Nolan Novak            15.05
Matt Freeman           14.85
Nick Hunter            13.80
Dylan James            14.20
Sam Mikulak            15.50
STILL RINGS (73.50) 
Paul Rizkalla Jr.      14.90
Colin Mahar            14.20
Matt Freeman           14.65
Jordan Gaarenstroom    14.95
Alex Bubnov            14.80
VAULT (75.10) 
Syque Caesar           14.90
Paul Rizkalla Jr.      15.20
Tristian Perez-Rivera  14.90
Konner Ackerman        15.05
Sam Mikulak            15.05
Jordan Gaarenstroom    14.60
Stacey Ervin           14.85
Nick Hunter            15.20
Syque Caesar           15.20
Sam Mikulak            15.65
HIGH BAR (72.35)
Konner Ackerman        14.05
Stacey Ervin           14.05
Nick Hunter            14.25
Syque Caesar           15.60
Sam Mikulak            14.40


• For the second straight year, U-M will begin the team finals on pommel horse.

Nolan Novak set a career high on pommel horse (15.05)

Paul Rizkalla Jr. set a career high on still rings (14.90)

Sam Mikulak equaled his career high on pommel horse with a 15.50

• Attendance was 1,059 for session one and 1,493 for session two.