March 6, 2012
The No. 8-ranked University of Michigan men's gymnastics team (6-5) returns to competition after a week layoff, traveling to the host site of the 2012 NCAA Championships to face the No. 1 Oklahoma (10-1) at the Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Okla.
This dual will serve as the third time this season that the Wolverines have squared off solely against a single team, as U-M is 1-1 in meets of the sort after defeating No. 1 Penn State 340.300-338.450 on Jan. 21 and falling to No. 4 Stanford on Feb. 25. This is also the third time Michigan will face a No. 1-ranked team as the squad took on the top-ranked Sooners on Jan. 28, finishing third in a tri-meet that also featured Illinois.
About the Sooners
The Sooners enter the meet with an RQS of 355.483, the top mark in the nation after two home meets and four away meets. Oklahoma is No. 1 in the nation on still rings with a 61.067 average, floor exercise (60.950) and parallel bars with a 57.617 on the event. Additionally, the squad is No. 2 on high bar (58.500) and on pommel horse.
Individually, the Sooners boast one of the top gymnasts in the country in Jake Dalton, who owns the top floor exercise average in the nation with a 16.133. Dalton is also No. 1 on parallel bars with a 15.317, No. 2 on high bar with a 15.183 scoring average, and is the top all-arounder in the nation with an 89.30 average.
Chris Stehl is No. 2 in the country on still rings with a 15.550 average, while Troy Nitzky is No. 6 with a 15.400 average. Jacoby Rubin is No. 3 in the country with a 14.933 mark on high bar, rounding out Oklahoma's top seven in the national rankings.
From a Historical Standpoint
The Wolverines and Sooners squared off already this season on Jan. 28, as Michigan took part in a tri-meet along with Oklahoma and Illinois, which featured the Sooners taking the tri-meet with a team score of 349.800 to the Maize and Blue's 347.700. Last season in Ann Arbor, the Wolverines earned an impressive team score of 355.400 but were edged by then No. 2 Oklahoma 357.750-355.400. Additionally, the Sooners took second at last season's NCAA Championships with a 361.600, while the Wolverines took fifth with a 356.200.
Facing No. 1
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. March 10 marks the third time on the season the Wolverines will take on a No. 1 squad for the first time in program history.
Mikulak Garners National Gymnast of the Week, Trip to Pacific Rim Championships
Sam Mikulak earned NCAA Gymnast of the Week honors for his performance against SUNY-Brockport and Ohio State on Feb. 18 in an effort that included five event victories and a 90.00 in the all-around competition. Additionally, he was one of eight American gymnasts selected to the 2012 Kellogg's Pacific Rim Championships that will be held March 16-17 at the Comcast Arena in Everett, Wash.
Last Time Out: Wolverines Fall on Road to Stanford
Sam Mikulak and Adrian de los Angeles earned runner-up finishes on vault, parallel bars and on floor to lead the Wolverines to a road score of 341.700 in the road defeat to the Cardinal on Feb. 26. The Wolverines scored a season-high 57.30 on pommel, aided by a 3-4-5 finish from Michael Myler (14.80), de los Angeles (14.50) and Dylan James (14.35).
Mikulak, de los Angeles Named to U.S. National Team
Michigan had a pair of gymnasts earn spots on the United States National Team after their performances at the Winter Cup Challenge, held Feb. 3-5 in Las Vegas. Mikulak earned his spot on the squad after placing in the top 10 in three of his four events, as he scored a 15.10 on parallel bars for a second-place finish. Additionally, he tied for seventh on rings (14.70) and marked a 13.95 on high bar for a seventh-place finish. Working his way back from injuries, he sat out floor and vault, two of his top events.
Rookie de los Angeles finished 10th in all-around competition with a finals score of 85.05. The freshman placed fifth on vault with a 15.75 and eighth on pommel horse (14.40) en route to earning one of three wild-card selections to the squad. Lastly, he placed 11th on parallel bars with a 14.35 tally.
Another freshman, Stacey Ervin, led all Michigan competitors with a 14.55 on floor, which tied him for sixth place on the exercise. He followed up with a 15.45 on vault, which tied him for 13th place. Additionally, current administrative assistant Ian Makowse (2008-11) took part in the floor exercise (13.30, 27th) and the high bar, where he earned a 13.75 for a 13th-place finish.
Nine Wolverines Make Collegiate Debut
At the Illinois Tri-Meet, freshman Reid Swanger(Austin, Texas/St. Andrew's Episcopal) became the eighth U-M freshman 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). 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. Additionally, junior Garrett Hamers (Salem, Ore./South Salem) made his collegiate debut still rings on Feb. 25 against Stanford.
Top 10 Individually
Below is a list of Wolverines in the top 10 nationally based on three-score average:
Wolverines Ranked Seventh in GymInfo Rankings
Michigan enters week three of the regular season ranked No. 8 nationally after a three-event score of 341.700. Michigan is ranked No. 3 in the country on floor and No. 4 on parallel bars. Additionally, U-M is eighth on rings and seventh on vault.
2. Penn State
5. Ohio State
11. Air Force Academy
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.
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.
NEXT TIME OUT
Saturday, March 17 -- vs. Illinois-Chicago (Cliff Keen Arena), 7 p.m.