Wolverines to Host No. 4 Ohio State, Raise Title Banners Saturday

Jan. 29, 2014

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Saturday, Feb. 1 -- vs. No. 4 Ohio State (Cliff Keen Arena), 2 p.m.
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The defending NCAA and Big Ten champion No. 2-ranked University of Michigan Wolverine men's gymnastics team (8-0, 4-0 Big Ten) will raise the 2013 NCAA and Big Ten championship banner to the rafters of Cliff Keen Arena on Saturday afternoon (Feb. 1) at 2 p.m. as the Wolverines open the 2014 home slate by hosting the No. 4-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes (3-2-1, 2-2-1 Big Ten).

U-M will have its full team for the first time this season, as United States National Team members Sam Mikulak and Stacey Ervin will be donning the Maize and Blue after each missed a meet this season due to national team training camps.


Jordan Gaarenstroom • Senior • Laguna Hills, Calif.

On his success on floor so far this season ...

Floor has always been one of my better events in the sport, and I've always aspired to contribute on the event. Fortunately, we have the strongest floor lineup in the NCAA, and consequently I have only been able to represent our team on floor for a handful of occasions. This year I've only competed floor at the Stanford Open competition. One of our usual floor competitors suffered an injury on a previous event, and as a result I was placed in lineup as the first alternate. In part, my success on floor has been a repercussion of our team's ability to create depth in a lineup. On rare occasions like the one I experienced this past weekend it is crucial to have an exceptional alternate ready and willing to give it their all. I will continue to strengthen my floor routine throughout the remainder of the year and hope that this will help us face potential adversity we may experience on floor in future meets.

On becoming an all-around gymnast as a senior ...

What I've learned over the last several months is that a gymnast doesn't just return to an all-around position by happenstance; a methodical plan and constant execution needs to happen in order to achieve this. My coaches have helped my formulate this plan and let it up to me to execute it. I'm passionate about this sport and becoming the best gymnast I can be, and what I see when I think about this is myself competing in the all-around. Ultimately, I want to improve my contribution to the team and maybe motivate teammates in the process. Being an all-around does have its perks. If I find myself struggling in the practice gym on a particular event I can both mentally and physical move on to another event; an event specialist doesn't necessarily have the luxury of moving on in the practice gym. Winning the Maize and Blue gave me a huge internal boost of confidence and determination to continue being an all-arounder.

On the motivation of narrowly missing out on All-America status on rings a season ago ...

I think about this every time I swing rings. Although, going into the NCAA Championships we had the primary goal of contributing to the team title, making rings finals was always a secondary goal. Having entered finals in second place I was very optimistic about becoming an All-American. I view that finals as a learning experience that I have over other competitors that may end up in the rings finals this year. The dream still lives on and having the championships at homes ignites even more of a fire to accomplish this.

On what he is looking forward to senior year ...

Less pressure, more fun. I'm just enjoying every day. By being a part of the national championship team and going to a world renowned school I am constantly reminded of how blessed I am.

On competing in California last week...

It's always nice to compete in California. It might not have been my neck of the woods but feeling the sun and pulling the tank tops off my shelf for the first time in months puts a smile on my face. I guess you could say that's an extra motivation to make the lineup for all of the kids on the team from California.

On his favorite part of being a Michigan gymnast ...

The integrity that comes with being a student-athlete. Everywhere I go I hear nothing but good things about our school, our sports and our image. I am proud to be a Michigan Wolverine and will forever be sporting a Michigan tattoo.

Last Time Against the Buckeyes
U-M already owns a victory over the Buckeyes this season, downing OSU, 437.500-436.050 on Jan. 18 at the Windy City Invite. Last season in Columbus, the Wolverines downed the Buckeyes with a team score of 446.150 to OSU's 435.650. Ervin notched a record mark on floor exercise, scoring a 16.15, while the Wolverines collected season-best scores on floor, still rings and high bar. Additionally, Matt Freeman won still rings with a 15.70, while Adrian de los Angeles took home the high bar title with a 15.05.

The Wolverines enter with a six-year winning streak over the Buckeyes, as U-M last lost to OSU in 2007 in Columbus.

About Ohio State
The Buckeyes own a team average of 430.750 and are the No. 1 pommel horse team in the country (72.65) thanks to Michael Newburger. He is the No. 1 pommel horse competitor in the NCAA , as well as the NCAA record-holder on the event (16.25). Additionally, the Buckeyes are No. 2 on vault (73.700), and No. 3 on high bar (71.225). No. 5 Larry Mayer (15.025) and No. 8 Logan Melander (14.925) anchor the vault unit, while Misha Koudinov is tied for the top spot in the country on high bar (15.00).

Stanford Open Champs
No. 2 Michigan captured the team title at the Stanford Open with a team tally of 433.050 on Jan. 25. The U-M effort was strong enough to knock off No. 6 Cal, which took second with a 430.300, while No. 4 Stanford took third with a 429.00. Washington, a club team, came in fourth with a 363.65.

On the meet, U-M collected a pair of event titles, as Tristian Perez-Rivera (15.55) won floor, and de los Angeles took vault (15.30).

U-M Opens Season with Windy City Title
U-M began the 2014 regular season with a comeback victory, trailing by .70 heading into the sixth rotation -- and scored a 74.95 on rings to capture the 44th Windy City Invite title Saturday (Jan. 18) at UIC with a team score of 437.500, besting Illinois and Ohio State, as well as Minnesota, Iowa and UIC. De los Angeles won parallel bars with a 15.15 and also placed third on floor exercise with a 14.80 to lead the Wolverine effort. U-M competed without Mikulak, who was training with the United States National Team in Beijng, China.

Nick Hunter set a pair of career highs in the meet, besting his previous parallel bar score with a 15.10, and his high bar score with a 14.75. Stacey Ervin also set a new high score on high bar (14.55), while Alex Bubnov got off to a hot start with a career best on still rings (15.40).

New Team Captains
The 2014 squad will be headed up by co-captains in graduate season Syque Caesar and senior Matt Freeman. Caesar will captain the squad for the third consecutive season, while the honor is the first of Freeman's career.

Overview of the Wolverines Squad: Loads of Firepower, Upper Class Heavy
After consecutive years of welcoming double-digit recruiting classes in 2011 and 2012, the Wolverines now have 18 of 25 members of this season's squad being either a junior or senior. Three freshmen and three sophomores comprise the underclassmen, while the squad features 11 juniors, seven seniors and one graduate student.

With junior Michael Strathern redshirting and the graduation of lineup mainstay Rohan Sebastian for a year ago, U-M returns 26-of-30 (in a six-up, six-count format) routines in terms of lineup regulars from the powerhouse 2013 squad.

Wolverines Ranked No. 2 in Gym Info Poll, Unanimous Preseason No. 1
Michigan entered the 2014 season as the unanimous choice for the top spot in the 2014 Preseason GymInfo Poll. Michigan earned all 11 first-place votes to mark the first time in the history of the poll (since 2002) that a team has been tabbed a unanimous No. 1.

Following week one of competition, U-M sits at No. 2 in the recent edition of the poll behind Oklahoma, while this week's opponent Ohio State comes in at No. 4. This is the second straight week that U-M will take on the No. 4 team in the country, as last week's opponent, Stanford, also held the spot.

2014 GymInfo Coaches' Poll
1. Oklahoma
2. Michigan
3. Stanford
4. Ohio State
5. California
6. Penn State
7. Minnesota
8. Illinois
9. Nebraska
10. Iowa

11. Air Force Academy
12. William & Mary
13. Army
14. Navy
15. Arizona State

Event Rankings
2. Team (435.275)
2. Floor (73.925)
3. Pommel Horse (72.025)
1. Still Rings (74.400)
1. Vault (74.125)
2. Parallel Bars (72.925)
10. High Bar (67.875)

Individual Rankings
Season averages

Floor Exercise
1. Sam Mikulak (15.50)
6. Tristian Perez-Rivera (15.15)
7. Adrian de los Angeles

Pommel Horse
T10. Matt Freeman (14.65)
T10. Dylan James (14.65)

Still Rings
7. Alex Bubnov (15.30)
9. Jordan Gaarenstroom (15.125)

1. Adrian de los Angeles (15.20)
6. Syque Caesar (15.00)

Parallel Bars
T3. Nick Hunter (14.975)
T3. Syque Caesar (14.975)
6. Nick Hunter (14.85)

6. Adrian de los Angeles (86.80)

Wolverines Top Big Ten Poll; James, de los Angeles Named Gymnasts to Watch
The No. 1-ranked University of Michigan men's gymnastics team was unanimously selected to finish first in the Big Ten, the conference announced Thursday (Dec. 12) with the release of the preseason coaches' poll. U-M earned two on the Gymnast to Watch list in senior Dylan James, a 2013 NCAA All-American on pommel horse, and junior Adrian de los Angeles, 2013 NCAA All-Around runner-up.
James, who earned his first career All-America citation after taking sixth on pommel horse, looks to lead a unit that finished last season ranked as the No. 4 pommel horse team in the country. De los Angeles, a member of the most dynamic all-around combination in the country along with two-time NCAA all-around champion Sam Mikulak, is coming off a season where he earned three CGA National Gymnast of the Week honors and All-Big Ten first team honors in addition to his All-America citation in the all-around competition.

This is the second straight season that the Wolverines have earned top billing in the conference poll.

2. Ohio State
3. Illinois
4. Penn State
5. Minnesota
6. Iowa
7. Nebraska

Mikulak Entered in American Cup
Sam Mikulak has accepted an invitation to represent the United States at the 2014 AT&T American Cup, scheduled for Saturday, March 1, 2014, at the Greensboro (N.C.) Coliseum Complex.

Mikulak finished sixth in the all-around and fourth on the horizontal bar at the 2013 World Championships. He enjoyed an incredible 2013, winning the all-around crown at the Big Ten Championships, NCAA National Championships and the P&G Championships. He also claimed the parallel bars and high bar titles at both the NCAA Nationals and P&G Championships. Mikulak was a member of the U.S. Men's Team for the 2012 Olympic Games, where he competed in the vault finals.

Invitations to compete in the AT&T American Cup are based on performances at the 2013 World Gymnastics Championships. The international field is expected to be announced in early 2014. The American Cup became a FIG World Cup event in 2011 and is part of the FIG's all-around World Cup series.

Standout Trio Signs with Michigan for 2014-15 Season
A trio standout student-athletes to National Letters of Intent Wednesday (Nov. 20) for the 2014-15 season.

The class, hailed as the top class in the country by StickItMedia.com, features 2013 United States junior P&G All-Around champion Dmitri Belanovski (Milwaukee, Wis./Nathan Hale), 2013 Junior Olympic All-Around champion Marvin Kimble(Milwaukee, Wis./Hamilton) and 2013 United States junior P&G floor exercise champion Marty Strech (Fountain Valley, Calif./Communications Academy).

Marvin Kimble
Prep ... First-place finishes include, 2013 Men's Junior Olympic National Championships (AA, FX, PH, SR, PB, HB), 2012 Visa Championships (AA, FX, SR, PB, HB), 2012 Men's Junior Olympic National Championships (AA, PB, HB), 2011 Men's Junior Olympic National Championships (SR) ... Selected to the first team at the 2012 Kellogg's Pacific Rim Championships and the 2012 USA vs. Canada Junior Team Competition ... Took second on high bar at the 2013 Kyle Shewfelt Festival, as well as third on pommels and fourth in the all-around competition.

Personal ... Born Oct. 27, 1995 ... Attends Swiss Turners Gymnastics Academy with fellow signee Dmitri Belanovski ... Also coached by Belanovski's father, Alexander ... Favorite event is high bar.

Dmitri Belanovski
Prep ... Took first place in the all-around competition at the 2013 P&G Championships, as well as second on still rings and parallel bars ... Also placed first on the still rings at the 2013 Men's Junior Olympic National Championships, as well as second in the all-around, floor exercise and high bar.

Personal ... Born April 19, 1995 ... Father, Alexander, serves as personal coach ... Club gym is Swiss Turners Gymnastics Academy ... From Minsk, Belarus ... Attained U.S. Citizenship on April 19, 2013 ... Attended Nathan Hale High School ... Sister, Polina, is also a gymnast.

Marty Strech
Prep ... Placed first on the floor exercise in the 2013 P&G Championships ... Took fourth place on vault in the 2013 Men's Junior Olympic National Championships ... First place on the pommel horse at the 2012 Visa Championships ... Placed first in the all-around at the 2011 Men's Junior Olympic National Championships ... Placed first on the high bar at the 2010 Men's Junior Olympic National Championships ... Took first in the all-around competition and on vault at the 2013 Kyle Shewfelt Festival, as well as second on floor and high bar ... Placed fifth on floor at the 2013 International Junior Gymnastics Competition.

Personal ... Born April 18, 1997 ... Coached by Eduard Azarian of Azarian U.S. Gymnastics Training Center ... Dad, Martin, was a wrestler.

Mikulak Earns World Finalist Distinction in Antwerp
Mikulak took sixth in the all-around competition at the 2014 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships, scoring an 88.548. His top score on the night came on floor with a 15.366 while also nailing a 15.200 on parallel bars. Due to his nearly flawless performance on high bar during day one of qualifying (15.366), he earned a berth on high bar event finals on the final day in Antwerp, where he took fourth overall after scoring a 15.566.

Mikulak Striving for Best Ever
With 13 All-America citations and five NCAA individual championships to his name heading into his senior season, Mikulak is prepared to stake his claim for the best NCAA gymnast ever. The senior trails Illinois great Joe Giallombrado (seven) as well as Ohio State's Blaine Wilson, Oklahoma's Jonathan Horton and Steve Legendre (six) for the most NCAA titles in a single career. He trails Horton (16) in terms of All-America citations, while Giallombardo owns 14 All-America citations.

U-M to Host 2014 NCAA Gymnastics Championships
Tickets for the 2014 NCAA Men's Gymnastics Championships, hosted by the University of Michigan, went on sale to the general public Nov. 13. The nation's top collegiate gymnasts will travel to Ann Arbor to compete for individual and team glory Thursday through Saturday, April 10-12, at Crisler Center. The host Wolverines will look to defend their 2013 NCAA crown in front of their home fans.

All-session tickets are $28 for adults and $20 for youth (age 18 and younger) and seniors (age 55 and older). Single-session passes are $10 for adults and $7 for youth and seniors.

Groups of 10 or more of any age will be eligible for a discounted single-session rate of $5 per ticket.

Tickets may be purchased online at MGoBlue.com/tickets, over the phone (734-764-0247 or toll-free 866-296-MTIX), or in person at the Michigan Athletics Ticket Office, located in the Marie Hartwig Building at 1100 South State Street in Ann Arbor.

The NCAA Championships will begin on Thursday with two qualifying sessions, scheduled for 1 and 7 p.m. The team finals and all-around competition will be held on Friday at 7 p.m., and Saturday's individual event finals will get underway at 7 p.m.

This will be the third time U-M has hosted a men's gymnastics national championship. Michigan also hosted the event in 1951 and 1971, with the latter held at Crisler. Overall, the last time U-M hosted and won an NCAA championship was in 1958, as men's swimming took home the NCAA title.

2013 In Review
The 2013 Michigan men's gymnastics team captured the fifth NCAA championship in program history and 16th Big Ten title en route to a 27-2 overall record on the season. The NCAA title is the third for Michigan head coach Kurt Golder, who was in his 17th season at the helm of the Wolverine program.

Led by 2012 United States Olympian Sam Mikulak, who compiled six NCAA All-America citations and a trio of NCAA titles (all-around, high bar, parallel bars), U-M earned a total of 13 team All-America citations to tie the most in program history. Along with Mikulak, Rohan Sebastian, Syque Caesar (3), Dylan James, Adrian de los Angeles (2) took home citations.

The six citations are the most in a single championship for any Wolverine ever, highlighted by the third-highest high bar score in NCAA history in the event finals (16.10). He also became the first Wolverine in program history to win both parallel bars and high bar in the same season. The margin of victory of 443.200-440.100 over second-place Oklahoma is the largest victory margin in 29 years.

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 results 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. New to the 2014 season is the teams Instagram account, @umichgym.

Saturday, Feb. 8 -- vs. Nebraska (Cliff Keen Arena.), 7 p.m.

Contact: Scott Kemps (skemps@umich.edu)