March 21, 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.
Hello Michigan Gymnastics fans! Welcome back to Sixth Year Stories with Syque Caesar. This week, I want to give you all an inside look at some of the past events your Wolverines have been through since my last blog post.
From March 2-8, the Michigan men travelled to sunny San Juan, Puerto Rico, for our annual spring break training trip that culminated in a tri-meet against Penn State and the Puerto Rican National Team. We were the victors on the night of March 7, beating out the Nittany Lions by a margin of more than 10 points. Capped off by Stacey Ervin's huge first-place score of 16.10 on the floor exercise, the Wolverines captured individual event titles on five of the six events -- including Nick Hunter (pommel horse and high bar), Sam Mikulak (vault) and yours truly on the parallel bars.
The reenergized and newly tanned team returned back to Ann Arbor to gear up for the final Cliff Keen Arena competition this season. We took on Penn State again this past weekend, except this time in front of a home crowd. Using the home crowd to our advantage, your defending NCAA national champions utilized five individual event titles from Ervin (floor), Mikulak (pommel horse and all-around), Hunter (parallel bars) and Konner Ackerman (vault), as well as a phenomenal high bar performance in the last rotation, to come out on top once again.
As we prepare for our final regular-season home competition this weekend, we also had the opportunity to participate in the 15th annual student-athlete talent show, Mock Rock. We always look forward to giving a crowd-pleasing performance, and this year was no different. We used contemporary hits like "Wrecking Ball" by Miley Cyrus, as well as an old school pop favorite, "Bye Bye Bye" by 'N Sync. You can check out our Mock Rock performance on YouTube! All though we didn't win first place, we definitely won the hearts of the crowd! Overall, it was a great event that showcased many of the student-athletes' talents outside of their respective sports, while also raising money for the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital and other great causes.
We are now looking forward to this weekend's Senior Night competition as we hope to cap off an undefeated regular-season campaign. We host the UIC Flames this Saturday, not in our usual Cliff Keen Arena home, but the venue for the 2014 NCAA Championships: Crisler Center! Our team hasn't competed there since 2009 when we hosted the Big Ten Championships my freshman year -- which makes me really old. If we can execute and beat UIC this weekend, will have a completed a perfect regular season with no losses; something that hasn't been done since 1974!
We are planning on using this weekend's competition as a tune-up meet for the Big Ten Championships, which will be next weekend in Lincoln, Neb. We will also use this competition as a way to get acclimated to Crisler Center in preparation for the NCAA Championships April 10-12.
We hope to see you all this weekend as we celebrate and send off our seniors in our final regular-season home competition. Don't forget to "Like" Michigan Men's Gymnastics on Facebook and follow @umichgym on Twitter and Instagram for latest Michigan Gymnastics news.
And as always, Go Blue!