Weekly Release #11: U-M to Go for Second Big Ten Title in Three Seasons

March 29, 2011

Friday, April 1, 7 p.m. CDT -- at Big Ten Championships - Team/All-Around Finals (Champaign, Ill.)
TV: Big Ten Network | Live Results
Saturday, April 2, 7 p.m. CDT -- at Big Ten Championships - Event Finals (Champaign, Ill.)
TV: Big Ten Network | Live Results

The No. 6-ranked University of Michigan men's gymnastics team (8-4, 5-2 Big Ten) travels to the Big Ten Championships on Friday and Saturday (April 1-2) hosted by the University of Illinois in Huff Hall in Champaign, Ill. The event will begin at 7 p.m. CDT both days.

This year, the Wolverines will be fighting for the title against No. 3-ranked Illinois and No. 5-ranked Penn State. With several player injuries finally healed up, Michigan looks poised to compete for the top spot after posting its top three team scores in the past three competitions. Illinois will lack the support from top all-arounder, Paul Ruggeri, after a season-ending injury earlier in February. However, both Penn State and Illinois will be a tough force to overcome as both teams posted season-high scores in their final regular-season competitions.

Quick Hits
• U-M won the parallel bars in six out of seven dual-meet competitions.

• The Wolverines won 29 out of a possible 43 events in dual-meet competition this season, including winning all six in the process of putting up a season-high score in victory at ASU on March 2 and five out of seven against Ohio State in the season finale.

Sam Mikulak has seven event wins in the past four meets, including winning four against Ohio State.

Kelley Showing Senior Skill
Thomas Kelley has nine wins in 2011 and has a victory in four out of seven events -- all-around, high bar, parallel bars and still rings. Most recently, Kelley won the still rings against Ohio State.

2010 Big Ten Championships
Last year, the favored Michigan Wolverines, leading after four rotations, suffered a disastrous pommel horse rotation and handed the victory to Illinois, 359.700-358.150. Penn State rounded out the top three, scoring a 347.300. Chris Cameron won the all-around and was awarded Big Ten Gymnast of the Year. Nine Wolverines qualified into event finals, gathering eight top-five finishes, with Cameron taking the floor title.

For the third year in a row, the Big Ten Network will be providing live coverage of the competition in high definition.

Wolverines Crush Some Nuts
Senior Night at the final regular-season competition Saturday (March 19), Michigan faced off against Big Ten rival Ohio State. The Wolverines trounced Ohio State by a 16.45-point margin, the largest victory over the foes since the scoring change in 2008. Michigan took four individual-event titles and the all-around title: Sam Mikulak (floor exercise, vault, parallel bars, all-around); Thomas Kelley (still rings). Mikulak was given the Newt Loken Award for the top performance of the night. Ohio State fled the scene taking refuge in their travel bus.

Freshman Sam Mikulak was awarded his fourth Big Ten Freshman of the Week after his dominating performance versus Ohio State, winning three event titles and the all-around. Mikulak has won this distinction more than any other freshman in the conference for the 2011 season.

Smart Flippers
Yesterday evening (Monday, March 28), 16 members of the men's gymnastics team were honored among 335 Michigan student-athletes at the annual Academic Awards Banquet. The award was given to individuals with a cumulative grade-point average of 3.0 or higher, or two consecutive terms of at least a 3.0 GPA. Furthermore, two gymnasts achieved perfect 4.0 GPA marks last semester.

Close One Versus the Sooners
On Saturday, March 12, the Wolverines faced second-ranked Oklahoma. Rising to the occasion, Michigan posted its top score of the season (355.400), but it was not quite enough to hold off the Sooners (357.750). The Maize and Blue had event wins from Thomas Kelley on high bar, tying his season-high 15.35, and Syque Caesar on parallel bars, scoring a career-high 15.65.

First Big Ten Gymnast of the Week
Senior co-captain Thomas Kelley was named the Big Ten Gymnast of the Week for the week of March 14-18 for his solid performance against Oklahoma. Kelley raked in four top-five event finishes, winning the high bar (15.35), third on floor exercise (14.65), fourth on still rings (14.75), and fifth on parallel bars (14.70). He also placed second in the all-around, scoring a season-high 87.35.

2011 Season Captains
Caesar and Kelley were voted co-team captains by fellow teammates at the conclusion of the 2010 season.

Social Media
Be sure to check out the men's gymnastics YouTube page [ YouTube page (UMGym) ] and [ Facebook page ] for competition footage and video highlights. Also follow us on Twitter [ Michigan_MGym ].