Chalk Talk #8: No. 1 U-M Travels to Defending NCAA Champ No. 4 Stanford

Feb. 23, 2010

Saturday, Feb. 27 -- at No. 4 Stanford (Palo Alto, Calif.), 7 p.m. PST
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The No. 1 ranked University of Michigan men's gymnastics team travels to Palo Alto, Calif., to go head to head with Stanford University, the defending NCAA champion, on Saturday (Feb. 27) at 7 p.m. The last time the Wolverines met the Cardinal, currently ranked No. 4, Stanford narrowly edged U-M, taking the NCAA team title, 362.800-361.500.

Wolverines' Late Surge Not Enough to Overcome No. 2 Oklahoma
The No. 3-ranked University of Michigan men's gymnastics team fell to the No. 2-ranked Oklahoma Sooners, 354.450-354.000, on Saturday (Feb. 20) despite a sweep of the top four in the last rotation on the high bar inside Cliff Keen Arena. The Wolverines were led by event wins from senior Mel Anton Santander (Southborough, Mass./Algonquin Regional) on the pommel horse and junior Thomas Kelley (Libertyville, Ill./Libertyville) on the rings and high bar. Kelley also finished second in the all-around with a season-best 87.250.

The Wolverines struggled through the first five rotations but finally found their form in the final rotation with Kelley, fifth-year Ryan McCarthy (Zionsville, Ind./Zionsville) and Santander taking the top three spots on the high bar. Kelley amazed the crowd, capping off a near-perfect set with a stuck full twisting double layout dismount. McCarthy nailed his double flipping release move over the bar for a career-best 15.150, while Santander set his second career best on the high bar for a routine that had only six-tenths of a point in deductions. The season-best total, 60.450, was too late and not enough to catch the Sooners.

Someone to Lean On
Justin and Torrance Laury never expected to compete together at the University of Michigan since they were five years apart, but an injury to older brother Justin allowed them to share one season together. Torrance helped his older brother return from injury and the two propelled Michigan to a fourth-place finish at the 2007 NCAA Championships. Together, the Laurys have been shining examples of hard work, determination and brotherhood. [ Read More ]

Steady Climb
The Wolverines, who started the season ranked No. 4, improved their ranking one spot after all three of the first weeks of competition this season. The Wolverines' 355.650 total against Penn State on Jan. 24 helped move them into second behind only 2009 Big Ten co-champion Illinois. Then, U-M's 352.450 in Iowa City, Iowa, on Jan. 30 catapulted Michigan to the No. 1 national ranking. An error in ranking calculation moved U-M to third last week, but the Wolverines have reclaimed the top spot nationally in this week's rankings.

Sebastian Wins U-M's First-Ever Big Ten Freshman of the Week Award
After taking the all-around crown in his first collegiate appearance in the event against UIC (Saturday, Feb. 13), Freshman Rohan Sebastian (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness Catholic) was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Week to become the first Wolverine to claim the award. Sebastian also collected three top-three finishes, including second on the vault (15.700) and parallel bars (13.600) and third on the still rings (14.000).

The award is Michigan's fourth Big Ten gymnastics weekly honor in a row after juniors Chris Cameron (Winter Haven, Fla./Lake Region) and Thomas Kelley combined for three straight honors prior to Sebastian's first-ever Freshman of the Week honor.

Cameron Finishes Third All-Around, Named to U.S. National Team
Chris Cameronfinished third place in the all-around at the Winter Cup Invitational held Thursday and Saturday (Feb. 4-6) in Las Vegas, Nev. Cameron's third place finish is the highest finish ever for a Wolverine and the highest finish of any current NCAA competitor. Mel Anton Santanderalso had a strong showing in Las Vegas, hitting all twelve routines he competed and finishing tenth in the all-around.

Big Stage. Big Ten. Big Vault.
On Jan 24, senior Kent Caldwell (Charlotte, N.C./Charlotte Latin) debuted a Yurchenko half on vault with a one-and-a-half twist. The vault, the second most difficult vault being performed by a Wolverine, is the only one currently being performed by any gymnast in the Big Ten conference and carries a 16.4 degree of difficulty.

Goldberg and Chan Re-elected Team Captains
For the second year in a row, seniors David Chan (Singapore/Hale School) and Phillip Goldberg (Dalton, Ga./McCallie) will captain the Wolverines. Chan and Goldberg were elected by the vote of their teammates after captaining the 2008-09 team to a share of the Big Ten title and a second-place finish at the NCAA Championships.

The Accidental All-American
Senior co-captain David Chan is currently featured on in an article about the unique circumstances that lead him to become a two-time All-America honoree and team captain for the Wolverines. [ Read the story! ]

Strong Finish
After the host Wolverines claimed a share of the team title and juniors Thomas Kelley and Chris Cameron finished 1-2 in the all-around at the 2009 Big Ten Championships, the team set season highs two days in a row to finish in second place at the NCAA Championships in Minneapolis, Minn. The Wolverines NCAA haul also included five All-America honorees in Cameron, Joe Catrambone, Phillip Goldberg, Adam Hamers, and Kelley.

International Wolverines
Two Wolverines have competed internationally this fall, freshman Rohan Sebastian (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness Catholic) and Chris Cameron. Sebastian represented Ireland at the 2009 World Gymnastics Championships in London, England, finishing in 54th place in the all-around competition with a total score of 76.800.

While Cameron finished in seventh place on the pommel horse with a 14.200 representing the U.S. national team in the finals of the DTB Grand Prix event. Competing in a field that included the top three from the 2009 World Championships, Cameron held his own, using his trademark Thomas flairs and clean execution. [ Watch the video of Cameron's DTB performance ]

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Contact: Scott Bregman (734) 763-4423

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