March 13, 2013
Saturday, March 16 -- at No. 1 Penn State (State College, Pa.), 7 p.m.
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The University of Michigan men's gymnastics team, coming off its first defeat of the season, holds at No. 2 in the GymInfo Poll heading into a clash with the No. 1-ranked Penn State Nittany Lions Saturday (March 16) at Rec Hall in State College, Pa.
Michigan holds a three-meet average of 441.750 and ranks in the top two on four events -- No. 1 on floor (75.517) and parallel bars (74.633), while the team is No. 2 on still rings (75.667) and vault (74.633) in team rankings. U-M is also No. 5 on pommel horse (72.533) and No. 8 on high bar (71.033).
Sam Mikulak leads the country on parallel bars, holding down the No. 1 ranking with a three-event average of 15.433, while Syque Caesar is No. 2 on the event with a 15.367. Stacey Ervin is No. 2 on floor with a 15.850 average and is No. 5 on vault with a 15.217. Adrian de los Angeles is No. 2 in the all-around rankings with a 88.683.
The showdown against No. 1 Penn State is the first matchup of the season vs. the No. 1 squad in the country. Last season, U-M took on the No. 1 team on three occasions.
Penn State enters the meet ranked No. 1 in the country on four events -- in pommel horse, still rings, vault, and high bar -- while the squad is No. 2 on parallel bars behind U-M. On pommels, the Nittany Lions have four gymnasts in the top 10 in individual rankings, led by Craig Hernandez, who is No. 3 on the apparatus with a 14.967 average. Freshman Trevor Howard is No. 2 on still rings (15.70), and Tristan Duverglas is No. 3 on vault with a 15.267. All five Nittany Lion members of the high bar lineup rank in the top 10, as Wasef Burbar (15.717) and Matt Felleman (15.483) rank No. 1 and No. 2 in the event.
The team was selected as the recipient of the February BASF Team Chemistry MVP Award on March 8 and was recognized for its accomplishments at the men's basketball game Sunday afternoon (March 10) vs. Indiana. BASF, the Chemical Company, is now proud to be a partner of University of Michigan Athletics. As a result of this new partnership, BASF will recognize one group in the athletic department from across all sports each month that represents the best qualities of team chemistry and its importance both on and off the field.
On Saturday (Feb. 9), Adrian de los Angeles was named to the United States National Team for the second time in his career for his performance at the Winter Cup Challenge. In the two-day scoring, de los Angeles was second in all-around competition (172.400) and was second on floor (31.10), ninth on pommel horse (27.80), third on still rings (28.60), sixth on parallel bars (28.95) and tied for eighth on high bar (27.35). Following the competition, de los Angeles, along with several others, were named to the U.S. National Team, along with all eight members of the 2012 U.S. Olympic team.
For his efforts at the Winter Cup, Adrian de los Angeles was named College Gymnastics Association NCAA Gymnast of the Week, as well as Big Ten Gymnast of the Week for the second time this season after his performance at the Winter Cup. He previously took home the honors on Jan. 21 earlier this season. The last Wolverine to take home both honors was Caesar, who earned the distinction on Jan. 28.
Following the win over No. 2 Stanford on Jan. 26, Syque Caesar was named National Gymnast of the Week by the College Gymnastics Association in addition to Big Ten Gymnast of the Week for his NCAA record-setting parallel bars performance and quartet of top-three finishes in U-M's 439.750-429.350 victory over the Cardinal. The team captain claimed a pair of first-place finishes against the Cardinal, on parallel bars with the NCAA record (15.90) and on high bar (14.80). He also placed second on floor exercise with a 15.25 and third on vault with a 15.00. The 15.90 on parallel bars eclipsed the previous NCAA record of 15.85 set on April 5, 2008, by Tim McNeill of California.
Michigan will enter week three of the 2013 season ranked No. 2 in the GymInfo national rankings. In individual events, U-M ranks in the top five in five events.
U-M National Ranks (Average)
Floor, 1st -- 75.52
Pommel Horse, 5th --72.53
Still Rings, 2nd -- 75.67
Vault, 2nd -- 74.63
Parallel Bars, 1st -- 74.75
High Bar, 8th--71.03
NCAA INDIVIDUAL RANKINGS (TOP 10)
2. Ervin 15.850
7. de los Angeles 15.300
9. Freeman 15.017
6. Freeman 15.533
5. Ervin 15.217
1. Mikulak 15.433
2. Caesar 15.367
2. de los Angeles 88.683
2013 GymInfo Coaches' Poll
1. Penn State
4. Ohio State
11. Air Force
12. William & Mary
IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Q: What does it mean to you to be captain (along with Syque Caesar) of this year's squad?
A: It's truly an honor to be co-captain of such a talented and spirited group of guys. Being a part of three very different teams during my time here and experiencing the success in 2010, Syque and I can talk about our past experiences. Our team knows we are capable of big things this yea,r and Syque and I are excited to see how all the hard work in the gym will pay off in the postseason.
Q: What is the team morale like heading into No. 1 Penn State, Big Tens, NCAAs?
A: Morale is high heading into the most important competitions of the year. The increased depth we are seeing on each event in the gym is allowing us to believe we are a strong team and capable of big things this year. Due to having some recent minor injuries, our main focus is too stay healthy, so we can get our full lineup out there, then success will be sure to follow.
Q: How does the new five-up, five-count system change the meet in general? Does it affect the way you approach your routines at all?
A: The new system undoubtedly brings a new level of pressure. There is no room for mistakes and consistency is key. The major difference this change has brought is greater number of routines in practice and handling any adversity that is presented. It is certainly going to make the championship competitions very exciting.
Q: Your ring sets have improved drastically this season. What do you attribute that to?
A: My rings set has certainly come together nicely this year. Upgrading skills heavily these past few years and sticking with it has allowed me to compete rings with a high level of difficulty and focus on the smaller details such as clean handstands and sticking the dismount.
Q: Does competing at Rec Hall (site of the NCAA Championships) help you prepare for competing there on the NCAA's greatest stage later this season?
A: Yes, this is certainly an experience we will use to our advantage. We can get a good idea of the equipment and crowd and really visualize what the situation will be like in a months time. Our mindset on the day of the dual meet will be to treat it like NCAA Championships day two where the title will be decided.
Q: Tell us a funny story from Spring Break...
A: Our team is made up of a group of spontaneous, often silly, individuals. One post-workout session where a majority of us were relaxing by the pool, several of us jumped in the pool and started swimming as fast as we can in circles creating a whirlpool effect. Then almost our whole team jumped in and it continued. As we looked around, the other hotel guests who were either poolside or peering out of their room windows looked upon us with a face of amusement. I think many of us chalked it up to admiration, so we continued. Regardless, it was a good time enjoying the water and sun!
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.