Weekly #2: Michigan to Travel to Season-Opening Windy City Invite

Jan. 10, 2012

Saturday, Jan. 14, 7 p.m. -- at Windy City Invite (Chicago, Ill.)

The University of Michigan men's gymnastics team (0-0) will begin the 2012 regular-season by traveling to the annual Windy City Invitational, hosted by the University of Illinois-Chicago at 7 p.m. CST inside the UIC Physical Education building. This is the 10th straight season U-M has started a campaign at the event.

The Michigan squad is highlighted by sophomore Sam Mikulak(Corona del Mar, Calif./Carona del Mar), who placed third on floor, seventh on vault and fourth on parallel bar at the NCAA Championships in his freshman season en route to the all-around national title. He is joined by junior Rohan Sebastian (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness Catholic), who took fourth in the pommel horse at NCAAs in 2011. The squad also features the 2011 Big Ten parallel bars champion in senior Syque Caesar (Port Saint Lucie, Fla./ Lincoln Park Academy), as well as the 2011 USA Championships all-around champion Adrian de los Angeles(Long Beach, Calif./Millikan), a freshman.

Top Competition in Chicago
The invitational will feature six of the top-12 teams in the nation, highlighted by No. 2 Illinois. Also in competition will be No. 7 Ohio State, No. 8 Minnesota, No. 10 Iowa, and No. 12 UIC.

Breaking the Trend
Michigan will enter the meet looking to break the trend of the past two years, as the squad placed second in the competition behind Illinois on each occasion. Last year, Michigan was defeated 355.400-346.100. In 2010, the Illini knocked off the Wolverines 353.750-351.350. The Wolverines won the event in 2009 after earning a team score of 346.100. U-M's only other win in the event came in 2007, when the finished three points ahead of runner-up Illinois-Urbana.

Caesar Earns Quartet of Medals at South Asian Championships
Syque Caesar made history for his native Bangladesh on Dec. 31 at the fourth Central South Asian Artistic Gymnastic Championships, earning the first gold medal in Bangladesh international history.

Caesar won the parallel bars competition with a mark of 14.60 and took silver in the vault with a 14.25. He followed up his silver performance with a 13.525 on floor to collectively earn a bronze in the all-around competition.

Mikulak Selected, Withdraws from 2012 Olympic Test Event
Sam Mikulak, selected for the 2012 Olympic Test Event in London (Jan. 10-13), was forced to withdraw from the competition due to a slight wrist injury. However, Mikulak is slated to compete in the all-around competition at the Windy City.

New Team Captains
The squad will be headed up by tri-captains: sophomore Alex Bubnov (Fanwood, N.J./ Scotch Plains-Fanwood), sophomore Kevin Fraser (Austin, Tex./ Cedar Park) and Syque Caesar, who served as a co-captain a year ago, while the captaincy honor is the first of Bubnov and Fraser's careers.

Young Squad Continues to Grow
After welcoming 11 freshmen a year ago, the Wolverines will add nine newcomers this season, making 21 of the 25 members of this season's squad underclassmen. This newcomers are: Adrian de los Angeles, Stacey Ervin (Troy, Mich./Truman), Taylor Harrower (Dublin, Ohio/Dublin Coffman), Hub Humphrey (Kalamazoo, Mich./Kalamazoo), Nick Hunter (Canfield, Ohio/Canfield), Mark Panhorst (Hanover Park, Ill./Glenbord North), Paul Rizkalla (Westfield, N.J./Westfield), Michael Strathern (Bartlett, Ill./Bartlett) and Reid Swanger (Austin, Texas/St. Andrew's Episcopal).

Wolverines Ranked Third in GymInfo Poll
Michigan will enter the 2012 season ranked No. 3 in the GymInfo national poll. The Wolverines earned a pair of first-place votes. Oklahoma tops the poll at with five first-place votes, while Big Ten rival Illinois ranks second with seven first-place votes.

Stanford debuts in the poll ranked No. 4 and received a trio of first-place votes to round out the top four spots. The poll sported a strong Big Ten flavor, as conference members Penn State, Ohio State, Minnesota, Nebraska and Iowa rank No. 6-10, respectively.

Coaches Poll
 1. Oklahoma
 4. Stanford
 5. California
 6. Penn St.
 9. Nebraska
10. IOWA
11. Air Force
12. UIC
12. Temple
14. Army
15. William & Mary
16. Springfield
16. Navy

Big Ten teams in italics
ALL CAPS - Windy City Invite Participant

National, International Scene Popular Over Summer
Sam Mikulak was invited to compete in the Puerto Rico Cup, along with freshman Adrian de los Angeles. However, Mikulak suffered a pair of ankle injuries but still competed in the floor exercise, pommel horse and high bar. Despite the injury, he was still selected to be a member of the United States Senior National Team and enters the 2012 season 100 percent in terms of health.

A pair of incoming Wolverine freshmen were in action at the Visa Championships, as de los Angeles won the 16-18 age division, while Stacey Ervin finished second on the floor routine in the Junior 16-18 division.

Rohan Sebastian, a 2011 All-Big Ten selection, was accompanied by assistant coach Xiao Yuan and represented Ireland at the 2011 World Championships. Senior co-captain and 2011 Big Ten parallel bars champion Syque Caesar was accompanied by assistant coach Geoff Corrigan at the World Championships, where Caesar represented Bangladesh. It marked the third straight year a Michigan gymnast has competed at the World Championships (Sebastian, 2009; Chris Cameron, 2010).

Ways to Follow U-M Gymnastics
For fans not able to attend meets this season, there are several ways to follow the Wolverines action this year. Your primary source for all things Michigan is MGoBlue.com, where recaps, features, schedules, and statistics can be found. Live stats will be provided for all home meets, as well as select away meets. Additionally, follow @umichgym for live updates at meets, and 'like' Michigan men's gymnastics on Facebook where special content can be found throughout the season.

»  Beginning with the 2017 season, entry to regular-season home events will be free of charge.