Mission Title Defense: Wolverines Seek 17th Big Ten Crown

March 26, 2014

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Fri-Sat., March 28-29 -- at Big Ten Championships (Lincoln, Neb.), 6 p.m./4 p.m. CDT
TV: Big Ten Network | Live Results (FRI) | Live Results (SAT) | Twitter Updates

The No. 4-ranked University of Michigan men's gymnastics team -- the defending NCAA and Big Ten champion -- begins postseason competition Friday (March 28) at the Big Ten Championships hosted by the University of Nebraska at the Bob DeVaney Center in Lincoln, Neb. Team and all-around finals are Friday at 6 p.m. CDT, while individual finals will begin at 4 p.m. CDT Saturday.

• Three individuals in Sam Mikulak (all-around, high bar), Stacey Ervin (floor) and Syque Caesar (parallel bars) look to defend their 2013 individual titles, while U-M looks to secure its 17th Big Ten title in program history and first back-to-back titles since the 1999-2000 season.

• Michigan will begin its quest for the title defense on vault in the first rotation. U-M has never competed in Lincoln.

• The meet will be shown live via the Big Ten Network both days, with Lisa Byington and John Roethlisberger providing play-by-play and color commentary.


The Title Defense
Sam Mikulak is entering the competition with two Big Ten all-around championships to his name already, having won in 2011 and 2013. He is seeking to become the first gymnast since Blaine Wilson (1995-97) to win three Big Ten all-around titles in his career. Additionally, he is looking to secure his third Big Ten high bar title, and he is the two-time defending champion on the event with wins the last two seasons. A title on the bar will make him the first Big Ten gymnast since Michigan legend Bob Darden to win three straight high bar titles in 1974-76.

Mikulak also owns two Big Ten Gymnast of the Year honors (2011, 2013) and would join elite company with another honor, as Blaine Wilson (1995-97) and John Roethlisberger (1990-93) are the only Big Ten gymnasts who have captured three or more of the awards since the honor's inception in 1988.

U-M is also looking to continue its parallel bar dominance, as a Wolverine has won titles on the apparatus in the last three seasons with Syque Caesar winning the event in 2011 and 2013, while Mikulak won in 2012. Caesar has a chance to become the first Big Ten gymnast since another Michigan legend Arno Lascari won three p-bar titles from 1962-64. Additionally, he would be the first back-to-back event winner for Michigan since Justin Toman (1998-99). Michigan has won eight of the last 16 parallel bar titles in that span.

As a team, Michigan sits third in all-time individual Big Ten titles (100) behind Illinois (149) and Minnesota (101).

With the team's most-recent win over UIC, U-M improves to 36-0 since its last defeat on March 9, 2013, against Oklahoma

2013 Big Ten Championship Review
At the 2013 Big Ten Championships, U-M captured its 16th conference title in program history, including four individual crowns with a team score of 438.900.

Mikulak garnered championships in the all-around competition and on high bar. For his efforts, he was honored as Big Ten Gymnast of the Year for the second time in his career, as he earned the distinction as a freshman in 2011. He was also named to the All-Big Ten first team for the third time in his career. The meet also marked the second time in his career and back-to-back seasons where he has won multiple Big Ten titles in one meet. Mikulak scored a 15.7 to give U-M three high bar titles in a row to successfully defend his 2012 Big Ten Title on the event. Current program assistant Ian Makowske (2008-11) captured the crown in 2011.

Head coach Kurt Golder won Big Ten Coach of the Year for the third time in his career, as he last won the award in the 1999 and 2000 seasons. The 1999 season marked an NCAA championship, while the 2000 season was the last time U-M won a Big Ten title outright (shared with Illinois in 2009).

Caesar won his second parallel bar title of his career, as he previously won the title in 2011. U-M has won three titles in a row on the event, as Mikulak won the title in 2012 in Caesar's absence as he missed that year's competition due to injury.

Ervin won the floor exercise for the Wolverines, scoring a 15.80 to become the 11th Wolverine to capture a Big Ten title on the exercise and the first since Chris Cameron in 2010.

U-M's three event winners, Mikulak, Caesar, and Ervin, were all named to the to the All-Big Ten first team, along with Adrian de los Angeles, who earned a spot on the team after taking second in the all-around competition.

The title is the first non-shared Big Ten title for U-M since 2000 and the fourth for head coach Kurt Golder (1999, 2000, 2009).

With the all-around win for Mikulak, a Wolverine has won the competition four of the last five years (Thomas Kelley 2009, Chris Cameron 2010, Mikulak 2011).

Mikulak was also the second Wolverine to win a pair of all-around titles in his career, as Rick McCurdy won three (1969-71). A Wolverine has also earned runner-up in the all-around in each of the past two years -- Adrian de los Angeles in 2013, Mikulak in 2012.

UIC Win Seals Perfect Regular Season
The No. 4-ranked University of Michigan men's gymnastics team completed its first undefeated regular season since 1974, cruising to a 445.85-401.75 victory over the UIC Flames Saturday (March 22) Crisler Center.

The Wolverines (19-0) were led on the night by Mikulak, who took home four individual event titles on the night (floor, pommels, vault and high bar). In addition to the season-best team score, Michigan scored season bests on vault and parallel bars and high bar. Additionally, U-M swept all six event titles.

Michigan began the night on floor, where Mikulak scored a career-high 15.85, and Ervin scored a 15.80. Classmate Hub Humphrey took third on the event with a 14.50, as U-M scored a 74.85 in the first rotation.

In rotation two on pommels, Mikulak once again led with a 15.25, while seniors Matt Freeman took second (14.60), and Dylan James scored a 14.40 for the event sweep. U-M led the Flames 146.15-131.20 after the second rotation.

Michigan then went on to sweep the next four events and led by as many as 36 points heading into the final rotation.

The Maize and Blue scored 73.35 on rings, with Freeman taking the title, and 74.90 on vault, Perez-Rivera marked a 15.25 for his second career vault win. Konner Ackerman equaled the score, as the pair shared the event title. U-M then closed out the night with a 76.70 on parallel bars and a 74.65 on high bar, as Mikulak secured his sixth career parallel bars title and 11th high-bar win of his stellar career.

Michigan Cleans up on Event Titles
The Wolverines have won 30 individual-event titles this season (including ties), with at least five wins in four meets (Nebraska, Arnold Invite, Penn State, UIC). U-M has swept individual events in two meet this year, the first coming against Nebraska and the second coming against UIC.

Title Breakdown
Adrian de los Angeles (3)
Tristian Perez-Rivera (2)
Sam Mikulak (7)
Syque Caesar (5)
Stacey Ervin (5)
Nick Hunter (2)
Matt Freeman (1)
Konner Ackerman (2)
Alex Bubnov (1)
Paul Rizkalla Jr. (1)

Mikulak, Perez-Rivera Earns B1G Honors
University of Michigan senior Sam Mikulak and freshman Tristian Perez-Rivera were named Big Ten Gymnast and Big Ten Freshman of the Week, respectively, on Monday (March 24) for their performances in U-M's 445.85-401.75 victory over the UIC Flames last Saturday.

Mikulak earned the honor after taking four event titles in Saturday's (March 22) competition, placing first on floor (15.85), parallel bars (15.70), high bar (15.50) and pommel horse (15.25). The highlight of the night came on floor, where Mikulak's 15.85 set a career high. During his career, Mikulak has recorded 11 high bar titles and six parallel bar titles.

The Big Ten Gymnast of the Week accolade marks Mikulak's fifth of his career. He also won four Freshman of the Week honors in his first season at U-M. Perez-Rivera earns Big Ten Freshman of the Week for the second time this season after claiming the accolade on March 3. The freshman won the vault competition with a 15.25. He also placed third on floor (14.50).

Mikulak Garners AT&T American Cup Title
Sam Mikulak won the all-around title at the 2014 AT&T American Cup at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex in Greensboro, N.C., on Saturday (March 1) with an all-around score of 90.098, beating out Japan's Shogo Nonomura at 88.965. The event is part of the International Gymnastics Federation's all-around World Cup series.

Mikulak started on floor with a 15.666 after tumbling a one-and-a-half to front double full and dismounting with a stuck triple full. He performed clean routines on the pommel horse and still rings with scores of 14.800 and 15.066, respectively. On the vault, he nearly stuck his Kasumatsu one-and-a-half for a 14.966. In the fifth rotation, Mikulak kept his swing going after a slight error in his healy on the parallel bars and scored 14.700. In the final rotation, on high bar, he executed his Kolman catch-and-release move for a 14.900 and sealed the title.

2014 GymInfo Coaches' Poll (March 25)
1. Oklahoma
2. Ohio State
3. Stanford
4. Michigan
5. Minnesota
6. Illinois
7. Penn State
8. Iowa
9. Cal
10. Air Force
11. Nebraska
12. William & Mary
13. Army
14. Navy
15. Arizona State

Event Rankings
4. Team (440.283)
2. Floor (75.600)
3. Pommel Horse (73.400)
2. Still Rings (74.650)
2. Vault (74.317)
1. Parallel Bars (74.317)
6. High Bar (71.850)

Individual Rankings
Three-event averages

Floor Exercise
1. Stacey Ervin (15.767)
2. Sam Mikulak (15.583)

Still Rings
10. Jordan Gaarenstroom (15.283)

8. Tristian Perez-Rivera (15.117)

Parallel Bars
1. Syque Caesar (15.550)
5. Nick Hunter (15.100)
7. Stacey Ervin (15.050)

High Bar
9. Syque Caesar (14.917)

U-M to Host 2014 NCAA Gymnastics Championships
Tickets for the 2014 NCAA Men's Gymnastics Championships, hosted by the University of Michigan, went on sale to the general public Nov. 13. The nation's top collegiate gymnasts will travel to Ann Arbor to compete for individual and team glory Thursday through Saturday, April 10-12, at Crisler Center. The host Wolverines will look to defend their 2013 NCAA crown in front of their home fans.

All-session tickets are $28 for adults and $20 for youth (age 18 and younger) and seniors (age 55 and older). Single-session passes are $10 for adults and $7 for youth and seniors.

Groups of 10 or more of any age will be eligible for a discounted single-session rate of $5 per ticket.

Tickets may be purchased online at MGoBlue.com/tickets, over the phone (734-764-0247 or toll-free 866-296-MTIX), or in person at the Michigan Athletics Ticket Office, located in the Marie Hartwig Building at 1100 South State Street in Ann Arbor.

The NCAA Championships will begin on Thursday with two qualifying sessions, scheduled for 1 and 7 p.m. The team finals and all-around competition will be held on Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday's individual event finals will get underway at 7 p.m.

This will be the third time U-M has hosted a men's gymnastics national championship. Michigan also hosted the event in 1951 and 1971, with the latter held at Crisler.

Overall, the last time U-M hosted and won an NCAA championship was in 1958, as men's swimming took home the NCAA title.

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 results 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. New to the 2014 season is the teams Instagram account, @umichgym.

Thu-Sat., April 10-12 -- at NCAA Championships (Crisler Center), 7 p.m.

Contact: Scott Kemps (skemps@umich.edu)