Chalk Talk #11: Wolverines Seek Second Straight Big Ten Title in Columbus

March 30, 2010

Friday-Saturday, April 2-3 - at Big Ten Championships (Columbus, Ohio), 7 p.m.
TV: Big Ten Network (live) | Big Ten Championships Homepage | Live Stats

Defending Champions Look to Earn Program's 16th Team Championships

The No. 4-ranked University of Michigan men's gymnastics team (9-3, 7-1 Big Ten) travels to Columbus, Ohio, to compete for its second Big Ten team title in a row, Friday-Saturday (April 2-3) at 7 p.m. The Wolverines enter the competition as the conference's second-ranked team behind Illinois, the only Big Ten team to best the Wolverines this season. U-M fell to the Illini in the season-opening Windy City Invitational in Chicago but shocked Illinois in Huff Hall on March 13 with a season-best total, beating the Fighting Illini, 359.650-358.650.

Last year, as the Wolverines played host to the Big Ten Championships in Crisler Arena, the squad earned the program's 15th team title and its first since 2000, tying with Illinois. This year, the defending champs enter the competition as the underdogs, led by U.S. senior national team member, junior Chris Cameron (Winter Haven, Fla./Lake Region), defending Big Ten all-around champion and 2009 Big Ten Gymnast of the Year, junior Thomas Kelley (Liberyville, Ill./Libertyville), and senior Mel Anton Santander (Southborough, Mass./Algonquin Regional), who posted the best all-around total in the Big Ten against Ohio State on March 20.

The Wolverines have several individuals ranked among the top in the conference, including Cameron, who is currently ranked first on the floor exercise, fourth on pommel horse, third on rings and fifth on parallel bars. Kelley is ranked fourth on the rings and second on high bar, while defending Big Ten still rings champion, fifth year Phillip Goldberg (Dalton, Ga./McCallie), will defend his title, entering the competition ranked second on the event. Fifth-year Kent Caldwell (Charlotte, N.C./Charlotte Latin), who sat out last year's conference championships due to injury, enters the championships as the conference's best vaulter.

Peaking at the Right Time
The Wolverines finished out the dual-meet season with back-to-back season-high team totals. First, the Wolverines posted a 359.650 at Illinois to beat the Fighting Illini. Then, U-M posted an NCAA season-high total and Michigan school record 364.450 in a rout of Ohio State on March 20.

Santander Earns Wolverines' Sixth Big Ten Weekly Award, National Gymnast of the Week
After setting a Michigan school record in the all-around (90.650), Santander was named the Big Ten Gymnast of the Week on March 22. Five Wolverines have combined for six Big Ten weekly honors this season, including freshman Rohan Sebastian (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness Catholic), who earned the program's first-ever Big Ten Freshman of the Week award.

Santander's record-breaking performance also earned him his second NCAA National Gymnast of the Week award of the 2010 campaign, as named by the College Gymnastics Association. Santander previously earned the award for his all-around winning performance at the team's intrasquad meet on Dec. 12.

Cameron, Sebastian Named to Spring International Competitions
Cameron was recently named as one of three senior U.S. national team members to compete at the 2010 Pacific Rim Championships in Melbourne, Australia. The competition, scheduled to take place April 23-May 2, features countries bordering the Pacific Ocean, including 2008 Olympic Gold and Silver teams China and Japan.

Irish national team member Sebastian will compete in the 2010 European Championships in Birmingham, England. Sebastian and head coach Kurt Golder, who will serve as the Irish team head coach, will fly directly from the NCAA championships to England to take part in the competition, which begins April 21.

Someone to Lean On
Justin and senior Torrance Laury (Marietta, Ga./McEachern) never expected to compete together at the University of Michigan since they were five years apart, but an injury to older brother Justin allowed them to share one season together. Torrance helped his older brother return from injury and the two propelled Michigan to a fourth-place finish at the 2007 NCAA Championships. Together, the Laurys have been shining examples of hard work, determination and brotherhood. [ Read More ]

Cameron Finishes Third All-Around, Named to U.S. National Team
Chris Cameron finished third place in the all-around at the Winter Cup Invitational held Thursday and Saturday (Feb. 4-6) in Las Vegas, Nev. Cameron's third-place finish is the highest finish ever for a Wolverine and the highest finish of any current NCAA competitor. Senior Mel Anton Santander (Southborough, Mass./Algonquin Regional) also had a strong showing in Las Vegas, hitting all twelve routines he competed and finishing tenth in the all-around.

Big Stage. Big Ten. Big Vault.
On Jan 24, Caldwell debuted a Yurchenko half on vault with a one-and-a-half twist. The vault, the second most difficult vault being performed by a Wolverine, is the only one currently being performed by any gymnast in the Big Ten conference and carries a 16.4 degree of difficulty.

Goldberg and Chan Re-elected Team Captains
For the second year in a row, seniors David Chan (Singapore/Hale School) and Phillip Goldberg (Dalton, Ga./McCallie) captain the Wolverines. Chan and Goldberg were elected by the vote of their teammates after captaining the 2008-09 team to a share of the Big Ten title and a second-place finish at the NCAA Championships.

The Accidental All-American
Senior co-captain David Chan is currently featured on in an article about the unique circumstances that lead him to become a two-time All-America honoree and team captain for the Wolverines. [ Read the story! ]

Strong Finish
After the host Wolverines claimed a share of the team title and juniors Thomas Kelley and Chris Cameron finished 1-2 in the all-around at the 2009 Big Ten Championships, the team set season highs two days in a row to finish in second place at the NCAA Championships in Minneapolis, Minn. The Wolverines NCAA haul also included five All-America honorees in Cameron, Joe Catrambone, Phillip Goldberg, Adam Hamers, and Kelley.

International Wolverines
Two Wolverines have competed internationally this fall, freshman Rohan Sebastian (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness Catholic) and Chris Cameron. Sebastian represented Ireland at the 2009 World Gymnastics Championships in London, England, finishing in 54th place in the all-around competition with a total score of 76.800.

While Cameron finished in seventh place on the pommel horse with a 14.200 representing the U.S. national team in the finals of the DTB Grand Prix event. Competing in a field that included the top three from the 2009 World Championships, Cameron held his own, using his trademark Thomas flairs and clean execution. [ Watch the video of Cameron's DTB performance ]

Social Gymnasts
If you want the latest news, photos and video links, make sure you are following us on Twitter and have become our fan on Facebook.

Contact: Scott Bregman (734) 763-4423

»  Beginning with the 2017 season, entry to regular-season home events will be free of charge.