Weekly #4: U-M to Take on Nation's Top Two Teams in Illinois

Jan. 24, 2012

Event Notes

Saturday, Jan. 28, 5 p.m. CST -- at No. 1 Oklahoma, vs. No. 2 Illinois -- Huff Hall (Champaign, Ill.)

The No. 7-ranked University of Michigan men's gymnastics team (4-2, 1-0 Big Ten) will face the nation's top-ranked team for the second straight week, traveling to Champaign, Ill., to compete against No. 1 Oklahoma (5-0) and No. 2 Illinois (5-1, 1-0 Big Ten) on Saturday (Jan. 28) at 5 p.m. CST inside Huff Hall.

Michigan Knocks Off No. 1 Penn State
U-M claimed three event titles and the all-around -- senior Syque Caesar (Port Saint Lucie, Fla./Lincoln Park Academy) in the parallel bars, sophomore Dylan James (Valencia, Calif./William S. Hart) in the pommel horse, and freshman Adrian de los Angeles (Long Beach, Calif./Millikan) in the vault and his first career all-around title (83.700) -- en route to knocking off No. 1 Penn State 340.30-338.45 in the home opening dual meet of the season. The event titles marked the first event titles in the careers of James and de los Angeles, while the parallel bar win was the fourth in Caesar's career.

Facing No. 1 in Back-to-Back Weeks
The win over the Nittany Lions marked the first time since 2005 that the Wolverines squared off against a No. 1 ranked opponent in the regular season, and there is no let-up for U-M, as the squad will take on new No. 1 Oklahoma and No. 2 Illinois. A win over Oklahoma would mark the first time in program history that U-M knocked off the No. 1 team in the country in back-to-back weeks.

Caesar Going for Three on PB
Syque Caesar will look to stay perfect on parallel bars this season after claiming the title at the Windy City Invite to begin the season and in the dual victory over top-ranked Penn State. Against PSU, he posted a 15.400 after tallying a season-high 15.50 in the season opener.

Mikulak Back after Training with United States National Team
Sam Mikulak will be back this week after missing the home dual meet against the Nittany Lions on Jan. 21 due to his training with the United States National Team during training camp in Colorado Springs, Colo.

About Illinois and Oklahoma
The Sooners lead the nation with an average team score of 348.425, while the Illini are second in the nation with a 347.100 ranking. Oklahoma owns the highest score in the country this year, with a top mark of 353.150.

No. 1 Oklahoma has the top still rings scoring average in the country at 60.925, and also leads the nation on vault with an average score of 58.775. Additionally, the Sooners are No. 2 in the country on high bar with a 57.425. The No. 2 Illini rank in the top three in the nation in four categories, highlighted by a No. 1 national rank on high bar with a 57.75. Additionally, they are No. 2 on parallel bar with a 57.20 average, and come in at third in the nation in still rings (60.30), as well as vault (58.55).

Last Season
Michigan pulled off the home upset last season, as the No. 6 Wolverines knocked off the No. 3 Illini 344.050-340.400 at Keen Arena on Feb. 12. U-M used event titles from Sam Mikulak (vault), Syque Caesar (parallel bars) and Ian Makowse (high bar) to avenge a 9.30-point loss to Illinois earlier in the season. U-M was downed by No. 2 Oklahoma 357.750-355.400 on March 12 of last year at home, as the Wolverines posted a then season-high score of 355.400, but the Sooners won five of six events as well as the all-around in the road victory.

Seven Wolverines Make Collegiate Debut
At the home-opening dual against No. 1 Penn State, freshman Paul Rizkalla (Westfield, N.J./Westfield) and freshman Taylor Harrower (Dublin, Ohio/Dublin Coffman). 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.

Wolverines Ranked Seventh in GymInfo Rankings
Michigan enters week two of the regular season ranked No. 7 nationally after tallying a team score of 340.30 against No. 1 Penn State. Michigan is ranked No. 2 in the country on floor and No. 1 on parallel bars. Additionally, U-M is fifth in rings and sixth on vault.

1. Oklahoma
2. Illinois
3. Ohio State
4. Penn State
5. California
6. Stanford
7. Michigan
8. Minnesota
9. Nebraska
10. Air Force
11. Temple
12. UIC
13. Army
14. Iowa
15. Arizona State

This week's opponents 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.