April 2, 2013
Fri-Sat., April 5-6 -- at Big Ten Championships (Minneapolis, Minn.), 7 p.m. CDT
The No. 3-ranked Wolverines (11-2) look to capture their 16th Big Ten championship in program history and their first since 2009 this weekend (Fri-Sat., April 5-6) at the Sports Pavilion on the campus of the University of Minnesota. Competition is slated to commence at 7 p.m. CDT each night, with team competition taking place on Friday, while individual event competition will be contested on Saturday in Minneapolis. Big Ten Network will televise the meet live.
U-M enters as the No. 2 team (and No. 3 nationally) in the Big Ten, behind No. 1 Penn State, while Ohio State comes in at No. 5. Defending champion Illinois is No. 6, while the host school Minnesota (7), Iowa (8), and No. 10 Nebraska round out the competing schools.
WHERE THEY RANK
U-M is ranked No. 3 in the GymInfo rankings with a 437.267 four-meet average and is No. 1 on vault with a 74.633 average, as well as No. 2 on floor (74.700), still rings (75.667) and parallel bars (73.367). The Wolverines are No. 5 in the country on both pommel horse (71.467) and high bar (71.100).
Adrian de los Angeles leads the nation in all-around competition with a four-event average of 88.683, while Matt Freeman is No. 2 on still rings with a 15.517 average. Stacey Ervin is No. 3 on floor (15.567) and No. 4 on vault (15.150), while Matt Freeman is No. 2 on still rings (15.517).
MICHIGAN BIG TEN HISTORY
Last season at Big Tens, U-M took second behind Illinois (351.850), while Sam Mikulak won both high bar and parallel bars. Along with Mikulak, Adrian de los Angeles earned All-Big Ten honors for his fifth-place finish in the all-around competition.
Michigan returns the past two Big Ten parallel bar champions -- Syque Caesar (2011) and Mikulak (2012). A Wolverine has won high bar in three of the past four years, as Joe Catrambone won the event in 2009, Ian Makowske claimed first in 2011 and Mikulak led the field in 2012. This season, Caesar set the NCAA record on p-bars on Jan. 26 against Stanford with a 15.90.
Mikulak enters the meet looking to return to the form of his freshman season, after placing second as a sophomore last year in the all-around. Rick McCurdy (1969-71) is the lone Wolverine to win three AA titles at Big Tens in one career. A Wolverine has won the all-around title three of the last four seasons, as Thomas Kelley (2009) and Chris Cameron (2010) started the streak prior to Mikulak's arrival in Ann Arbor. Mikulak took the title as a freshman and finished second last year to Illinois' CJ Maestas. Due to various ailments this season, Mikulak has failed to compete in all-around competition in 2013. De los Angeles enters the meet as the nation's top all-arounder, boasting a season-high 88.683.
With the parallel bars and high bar crowns at the 2012 conference meet, Mikulak became the first Michigan gymnast since 2000 to win a pair of Big Ten titles in a single meet, as Scott Vetere won still rings and vault.
Michigan has won nearly half of the Big Ten Gymnast of the Week Awards this season.
U-M has also collected four College Gymnastics Association Gymnast of the Week Awards, awarded to the top national gymnast of the week.
The Wolverines have won a total of 31 event titles this season heading into postseason competition. The event breakdown is as follows:
Floor, 6 (Ervin 5, Caesar 1)
Horse, 2 (Freeman 2)
Rings, 4 (Freeman 4)
Vault, 5 (De los Angeles 2, Ervin, Strathern, Mikulak 1)
Parallel bars, 5 (Caesar 2, Mikulak, Strathern, de los Angeles 1)
High Bar, 3 (Caesar, Strathern, Mikulak, 1)
All-Around, 5 (De los Angeles 5)
On Senior Night (March 23) in Cliff Keen Arena, U-M (440.750) defeated No. 15 UIC (404.000) and SUNY-Brockport (306.550) to improve to 11-2 on the season. Freeman won both still rings and pommel horse, while classmate Mikulak won vault and high bar. De los Angeles won the all-around competition for the Wolverines, scoring a career-best 89.70, which leads the nation and earned himself CGA Gymnast of the Week.
The night also paid homage to U-M's three seniors in Douglass Johnson Jr., Rohan Sebastian and Syque Caesar. Sebastian set a career best on rings with a 15.40, while Johnson competed for the first time in two years, scoring a 13.50 on parallel bars.
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), 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 he 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 (Feb. 7-9), 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 Saturday (Jan. 26). 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.
U-M National Ranks (Average)
Floor, 2nd -- 74.700
Pommel Horse, 5th --71.467
Still Rings, 2nd -- 75.667
Vault, 1st -- 74.633
Parallel Bars, 2nd -- 73.367
High Bar, 5th--71.100
NCAA INDIVIDUAL RANKINGS (TOP 10)
3. Ervin 15.567
7. de los Angeles 15.200
10. Freeman 14.867
2. Freeman 15.517
4. Ervin 15.150
4. Mikulak 15.067
8. de los Angeles 14.983
10. Caesar 14.800
1. de los Angeles 88.683
2013 GymInfo Coaches' Poll
1. Penn State
5. Ohio State
11. Air Force
12. William & Mary
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.
IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Port St. Lucie, Fla.
Q: After not being able to participate at Big Tens last year, are you looking to make up for lost time?
A: After not being able to participate at Big Ten's last year due to injury, I am absolutely looking to make up for lost time! It has been a long season and I am so pumped to compete at my first Big Ten's since 2011.
Q: What are you looking forward to the most about Big Tens?
A: Big Ten's is always one of the most exciting competitions every season. I am most looking forward to having fun and competing with my teammates by my side. The team has been training extremely hard all season, and the time has come to finally show it all off at Big Ten's.
Q: What type of leadership can you provide being the lone holdover from the 2009 Big Ten championship squad?
A: Being the lone holdover from the 2009 Big Ten championship squad, the main type of leadership that I believe I can provide to the squad is experience. Although this is a big competition, it is my responsibility to make sure that the team stays on the same page, remains calm, and focused throughout the entire competition. If we keep the energy level high and eliminate all distractions while we compete, we will do great things!
Q: Talk about some of the other teams in the competition. Who do you think provides the biggest threat?
A: Our biggest threat is, without a doubt, Penn State. They are the No. 1-ranked team in the country are enter the postseason with an undefeated record. That being said, the new competition format of five up, five count allows teams that aren't as deep to potentially gain an advantage. Hitting routines is the key; at the end of the competition, the team that hits the most is the team that will win. If we can do that, we will most definitely have a shot of coming out on top.
Q: Which Wolverine has the potential to break out and help lead the team to victory?
A: It is going to come down to our guys who are fourth and fifth in the competition lineup for each event. Every team typically has at least one, two, or even three scorers on each event; if every team hits 100 percent, it's going to come down to how close the fourth and fifth counting scores are to the top-three scores on each event. For us, it will be important for our two all-arounders, Sam Mikulak and Adrian de los Angeles, to lead us through the meet from start to finish. The majority of the lineup is made up of sophomores and juniors who all play key roles in rounding out the competition squad. We will look to sophomores Stacey Ervin, Michael Strathern, and Nick Hunter to compete multiple events and juniors Matt Freeman and Jordan Gaarenstroom for big scores on pommel horse and still rings.
Q: Is there any added pressure on p-bars in being a former Big Ten champ and the NCAA record holder on the event?
A: There is definitely some added pressure on parallel bars in being a former Big Ten Champion and NCAA record-holder, but all of my individual goals come second to the team goals. If I had to choose, I would sacrifice an individual parallel bars event title for a team title no questions asked. That being said, I am going into the competition with the mindset of just hitting all of my routines to the best of my ability and contributing to the team score. If I make the parallel bars event final and do the best routine that I can and still not win the title, then there is no way that I can be disappointed with myself.