Feb. 5, 2014
Syque Caesar is in his sixth year with the U-M men's gymnastics program. A U-M graduate student, two-time NCAA champion, Big Ten team and individual champion and 2012 Olympian, Caesar will guide fans through the season and give an inside look on the trials and tribulations of a team looking to defend its NCAA and Big Ten crown. You can follow him on Twitter, @SyqueCaesar.
Welcome back Michigan Gymnastics fans, Syque Caesar here with your second installment of Sixth-Year Stories!
Your Wolverines have just come off a dominating performance this past weekend against Ohio State in an exciting home opener at Cliff Keen Arena. A special banner presentation took place prior to the competition as senior team co-captain Matt Freeman and yours truly unveiled the brand new 2013 NCAA championship banner on route to us scoring a huge 444.75 win over the Buckeyes' impressive 440.80 on Saturday (Feb. 1). The win increases your defending national champions to a 9-0 overall record so far this season.
The Maize and Blue was able to give the home crowd a sneak peek of what's in store later in the season as we were able to display close to our strongest lineup which included Olympians, US National Team Members and All-Americans. U-M led the meet from start to finish as we were able to record a score of 15.30 or higher on every single apparatus except for high bar -- in which our highest score was a 14.90. If you are getting confused about the scoring, since the "Perfect 10" no longer exists in our sport, a 15.00 or higher is a great score on every event, and a 10.00 is pretty terrible. So if the team were to count only 15.00 scores on every event, then the final team score would be a 450.00 -- which we came very close to already so early in the season. To put it into perspective, our 2013 NCAA championship winning score was a 443.20.
The NCAA has made things a lot more interesting recently with the implementation of a new team format last season. The old format had six guys compete on each apparatus, and the top four scores counted towards the team score; so two competitors in a lineup were able to miss their routines without catastrophically hurting the team score too significantly. Now, however, six guys will compete on an event, and the top five scores will have to count, leaving teams with less room for mistakes. On top of that, after about halfway through the regular season, the format will change to five up, five count -- meaning all five scores on the event have to count towards the team score regardless of mistakes or falls. This makes competition much more intense and strategic for the teams as well as allowing spectators to understand that a fall or an error on an event can be the difference between winning a championship and not even making the podium.
As we move forward to this weekend's competition against the Nebraska Cornhuskers, your Michigan Men are hard at work in the gym adding upgrades and increasing our overall level of gymnastics in order to continue our winning streak. Our lineups on each event this weekend will showcase the depth of our team as we will be utilizing many fresh faces on the competition floor. We look forward to seeing you this weekend at Cliff Keen Arena as No. 2 Michigan faces No. 10 Nebraska at 7 p.m. on Saturday (Feb. 8).
Be sure to "Like" Michigan Men's Gymnastics on Facebook and follow us @umichgym on Twitter and Instagram. I'll catch you later this season on Sixth-Year Stories, and as always, Go Blue!