Weekly #5: Ervin, de los Angeles, Mikulak to Go to Winter Cup
Stacey Ervin

Jan. 31, 2012

Event Preview

Thu-Sat., Feb. 2-4 -- at Winter Cup Challenge (Las Vegas, Nev.), 6:30 p.m. PST/7:15 p.m. PST [ Live Results ]

A trio of Wolverines from the No. 8-ranked University of Michigan men's gymnastics team will travel to one of the nation's premier meets, the Winter Cup Challenge in Las Vegas, as the top American gymnasts in the country will be present. Sophomore Sam Mikulak, as well as freshmen Stacey Ervin and Adrian de los Angeles, are the current Wolverines competing, while administrative assistant and 2011 U-M graduate Ian Makowske and 2013 signee Konner Ackerman will also be in action.

About the Winter Cup
Performances at the 2012 Winter Cup Challenge will help determine the 15 men who will comprise the U.S. Men's Senior National Team through the 2012 Visa Championships, to be held June 7-10 in St. Louis, Mo. The seven members of the 2011 World Championships squad retain their spots on the national team, while the remaining eight spots will be determined based on the following criteria: the top-ranked all-around athlete who is not already on the senior national team; four based on the National Team Points System; two athletes selected by the men's program committee; and one selected by the national team coordinator.

The top 42 gymnasts, according to the men's program committee's points ranking system, will advance to the final competition, along with the top three gymnasts on each apparatus. The all-around and individual event champions will be determined via a combined two-day score.

From a Historical Standpoint
Last season, three Wolverines in Mikulak, Makowske, and then-redshirt junior Adam Hamers advanced from preliminary competition to the event finals. Mikulak scored a 16.15 on vault, earning a second-place finish on the event, while Makowske tallied a 15.35 for a third-place finish.

U-M Comes in Third against Nation's Best
The Wolverines earned a 339.100 against No. 2 Illinois (349.800) and No. 1 Oklahoma (347.700) on Jan. 28 at Illinois' Huff Hall. U-M was paced by Mikulak, who took the pommel horse title with a 15.00 and earn his second pommel horse title of his career. Additionally, U-M earned season-high scores on the pommel (55.80) and high bar (56.00).

Mikulak Returns to Lineup
After being absent from the Penn State meet due to training at the United States Olympic Training Center, Mikulak returned to the lineup at Illinois on a limited basis due to injury, and competed solely on pommel horse. He is currently slated to compete in the all-around at the Winter Cup Challenge.

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 Penn State on Jan. 21 marked the first time since 2005 that the Wolverines squared off against a No. 1-ranked opponent in the regular season, and there was no let-up for U-M, as the squad will took on new No. 1 Oklahoma and No. 2 Illinois the following week. U-M's next meet, a home tri-meet with Ohio State and SUNY Brockport on Feb. 18, features the fourth-ranked Buckeyes.

Eight Wolverines Make Collegiate Debut
At the Illinois Tri-Meet, freshman Reid Swanger (Austin, Texas/St. Andrew's Episcopal) became the eighth U-M freshmen to debut in Maize and Blue, as he competed on vault.

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) debuted.

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 Eighth in GymInfo Rankings
Michigan enters week three of the regular season ranked No. 8 nationally after tallying a team score of 339.100 against No. 1 Oklahoma and No. 2 Illinois. Michigan is ranked No. 4 in the country on floor and No. 1 on parallel bars. Additionally, U-M is eighth on rings and fifth on vault.

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

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.

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