Weekly #3: U-M to Host Top-Ranked Nittany Lions Saturday

Jan. 17, 2012

Saturday, Jan. 21, 7 p.m. -- vs. Penn State (Cliff Keen Arena)

The No. 6-ranked University of Michigan men's gymnastics team (3-2 overall, 0-0 Big Ten) is poised to open up its 2012 home and conference slate against No. 1 Penn State (1-0, 0-0 Big Ten) at 7 p.m. at Cliff Keen Arena. This is the fifth straight season that the Wolverines will begin the conference slate against the Nittany Lions. The teams have traded victories and losses the past four seasons (L, 2011; W, 2010; L, 2009; W, 2008).

Top-Ranked Notes
• This is the first time Michigan will face a top-ranked foe in a dual meet since 2005 when U-M faced No. 1 Ohio State in Columbus.

• The last time U-M defeated a top-ranked team was Jan. 23, 2004 -- also Penn State. That was also the last time Michigan hosted a No. 1-ranked squad in a dual.

Windy City Invite
Michigan is coming off a third-place finish at the season-opening Windy City Invite (Saturday, Jan. 14), which was highlighted by sophomore Sam Mikulak (Corona del Mar, Calif./Corona del Mar), who won the floor exercise with a score of 15.60 and came in second in the all-around competition (85.00).

Additionally, teammate senior Syque Caesar (Port Saint Lucie, Fla./ Lincoln Park Academy) earned his third career parallel bar title with a score of 15.50.

As a team, the floor exercise highlighted the competition, as U-M compiled a score of 60.90, which is the teams highest floor score since tallying a 60.10 against Stanford on Feb. 27, 2010.

Mikulak Training with United States National Team
Mikulak, the 2011 NCAA all-around champion, will not be competing against the Nittany Lions due to his training with the United States National Team during training camp in Colorado Springs, Colo. Assistant coach Geoff Corrigan will also be traveling with Mikulak to the camp, and will be unavailable for the meet.

Five Wolverines Make Collegiate Debut
At the Windy City, five Wolverines made their collegiate debuts. Adrian de los Angeles (Long Beach, Calif./Millikan) appeared in the all-around, while Stacey Ervin (Troy, Mich./Truman) took part in the meet on floor, vault, and parallel bars. Mark Panhorst (Hanover Park, Ill./Glenbord North), took part in the pommel horse and parallel bars, while Nick Hunter (Canfield, Ohio/Canfield) participated in parallel bars and high bar. Hub Humphrey (Kalamazoo, Mich./Kalamazoo) took part in the floor exercise, where he notched a 13.90.

About the No. 1 Nittany Lions
Penn State defeated Army in week one of competition with a team score of 349.80, paced by Big Ten Gymnast of the Week Scott Rosenthal, who broke the school record in the still rings with a 16.30 and tied the NCAA record. The Nittany Lion floor effort tallied a 59.20, while the squad collected a solid 61.20 on rings for the top two event scores on the night.

Last Season
In State College a year ago, Penn State knocked off the then-defending national champion Wolverines, 350.400-346.900, in a dual meet at Rec Hall. U-M scored a 61.60 on vault but was eclipsed by a 62.70 on vault and a 60.20 on rings by the Nittany Lions to result in the defeat. Then senior Thomas Kelley won the all-around (84.30), while Syque Caesar won the parallel bars with a score of 14.90 to lead the U-M finishers.

Wolverines Ranked Sixth in GymInfo Poll
Michigan enters week two of the regular season ranked No. 6 nationally after notching a team score of 338.700. Penn State turned in the top national performance in the country in week one with a 349.800 to head into week two of the season ranked as the top team in the nation. Michigan is tops in the nation in the floor exercise at 60.90, as well as parallel bars (58.60). Additionally, the squad is ranked No. 5 in the still rings and vault.

Coaches Poll
1. Penn State
2. Ohio State
3. Oklahoma
4. Illinois
5. California
7. Minnesota
8. Stanford
9. Air Force
10. Nebraska
11. UIC
12. Army
13. Iowa

Big Ten teams in italics

Caesar Earns Quartet of Medals at South Asian Championships
Syque Caesar made history for his native Bangladesh 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. Caesar served as a co-captain a year ago, while the captaincy honor is the first of Bubnov and Fraser's careers.

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.