Weekly Release #5: Michigan to Host No. 3 Illinois in Home Opener

Feb. 8, 2011

Saturday, Feb. 12, 1 p.m. -- vs. No. 3 Illinois (Cliff Keen Arena), 1 p.m.
Live Results

The No. 6-ranked University of Michigan men's gymnastics team (4-2, 3-2 Big Ten) opens the first home competition of the season against Big Ten rival and No. 3 ranked Illinois (8-0, 7-0 Big Ten) this Saturday (Feb. 12) at 1 p.m. in Cliff Keen Arena. Last year, the Wolverines upset the Illini in a thrilling on-the-road victory in Huff Hall, 359.650-358.650. The Wolverines were led by Chris Cameron, who took top-five finishes in all four events he competed.

Growing Rivalry
The last few years have seen a growing rivalry between the Wolverines and Illini stemming from the 2009 season; in tit-for-tat fashion, the Wolverines beat out the Illinois at the Windy City Invite and then lost a close dual meet bout to the Illini later in the season. Then at a shocking Big Ten Championships, Illinois was awarded the championship trophy during a live television broadcast only to find out that it must share the title with Michigan after a last-minute score adjustment caused the two teams to tie, dividing the championship hardware (t-shirts, hats and trophy). Michigan then found closure from the conference championships when it earned runner-up at the NCAA Championships, beating out the fifth-place Illini by more than two points. In the 2010 season, the rivalry continued to grow, switching places in the regular season matchups with Illinois passing Michigan to win the Windy City Invite, but Michigan winning the dual meet on the road later in the season. In the Big Ten Championships, Michigan struggled with frustration after giving up its large lead in the fifth rotation on pommel horse to see its victory slip away to Illinois. The bitter defeat was quenched at the NCAA Championships when the Wolverines were victorious, becoming the 2010 national champions and beating out the fourth-place Illini by more than five points.

Schedule Poster/Schedule Card Giveaway, Trivia, Post-Meet Autographs

Gymnastics Club Night -- Area recreation department and youth gymnastics clubs will be invited to tonight's meet. A mailing will be conducted to all gymnastics clubs in the state of Michigan. Interested clubs should contact Matt Thompson at mattct@umich.edu.

Camper Reunion Day -- All 2010 Michigan gymnastics campers will be sent a special invitation to attend this meet free of charge!

Student Group Day Challenge I -- Student groups will be invited to attend the first meet of the season. The group that brings the most members will be rewarded $500 towards their student group. To sign your group up, contact Matt Thompson at mattct@umich.edu.

Strong Showing at the Winter Cup Challenge
Six Wolverines traveled to Las Vegas Nev., last week (Feb. 3-5) to compete against the best gymnasts in the nation for a spot on the US National Team. Sam Mikulak, Adam Hamers and Ian Makowske were among the top 42 competitors from prelims and qualified into finals on Saturday (Feb. 5). In a two-day combined event total Makowske took third on high bar with a 28.65. His finals routine included a new release combination and a skill that he invented [ Watch Here ]. Freshman Mikulak just missed the top spot and took second place on vault (32.20), competing a world class triple twisting vault for the first time; the hardest difficulty vault a Michigan gymnast has ever attempted and a skill that only a handful of gymnasts in the world can do [ Watch Here ].

Sam Mikulak Honored as Big Ten Freshman of the Week
For his efforts on vault at the Winter Cup Challenge, Sam Mikulak was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week. This is the first gymnast of the week award for Michigan in the 2011 season.

Wolverines on US National Team
Former Wolverine, 2007 graduate, Andrew Elkind was named to the US National Team this past weekend at the Winter Cup Challenge. Elkind trains at the US Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Col. Elkind joins current Wolverine and 2010 World Team member Chris Cameron on the national team.

Michigan's Comeback Kid
Senior Ben Baldus-Strauss (Wheaton, Ill./ Wheaton Warrenville South) was recently featured in a Michigan Daily article about the several injuries he has overcome during his time on the gymnastics team. [ Read the Article Here ]

Quick Start for Kelley in All-Around
Thomas Kelley has excelled in the all-around in the first two meets of the season, winning the crown at Penn State on Jan. 22 after earning third at the Windy City Invitational on Jan. 15.

2010 Captains
In conclusion to the 2010 season, the Wolverines selected senior Thomas Kelley and junior Syque Caesar to lead the team for the 2011 campaign.

Social Media
Be sure to check out the men's gymnastics YouTube page [ YouTube page (UMGym) ] and [ Facebook page ] for competition footage and video highlights. Also follow us on Twitter [Michigan_MGym].