April 7, 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.
It all comes down to this weekend, the 2014 NCAA Men's Gymnastics National Championships hosted by the University of Michigan at Crisler Center, April 10-12. Your defending national champions look to complete an incredibly successful season coming off the first undefeated regular-season campaign in 40 years, as well as recapturing the 2014 Big Ten title just two weeks ago in Lincoln, Neb.
It's no secret that we hope to defend the national title and win the championship in an unforgettable way in front of a home crowd this Friday during the team finals competition. If you've been following Michigan Men's Gymnastics via social media, you have probably noticed a term that we've coined since the beginning of the 2013 season, #MGymDynasty.
So what exactly is #MGymDynasty? It is an ideal, a goal, a tangible new standard for the team. A dynasty can be defined as group, which is very successful for a long period of time. In the sports realm, this essentially means being the top team in the country for an extended period of time. Last year we were able to build the initial foundation by capturing the first outright Big Ten team title since 2000 and then following up by not only claiming the NCAA championship, but by winning by the largest margin of victory since 1984. However, this year has proven to be anything but a walk in the park.
Although we've maintained over 90 percent of our team from the previous year, we have faced uncompromising adversity throughout the season. Right from the beginning, we knew that we would be without regular lineup fixture Michael Strathern, who be redshirting the year after repairing prolonged damage in his foot. Soon after, sophomore Konner Ackerman suffered a dislocated elbow literally one week before our annual Maize and Blue Instraquad in December -- luckily he has come back more solid than ever contributing to our vault and high bar lineups.
During the February USA Gymnastics Winter Cup Challenge, otherwise known as the USA Winter Nationals, junior two-time All-American Adrian de los Angeles suffered a ruptured ACL. Less than a week later, promising junior rings strongman Reid Swanger tore the long head of his biceps tendon, taking him out for the year. It didn't end just there, just recently at the 2014 Big Ten Championships, defending Big Ten floor champion Stacey Ervin also ruptured his biceps tendon on his first event, parallel bars, in the team competition during the very first skill. But he didn't just jump off -- he completed his entire routine through the pain and delivered a score for his team.
These are the types of stories that help push us to make #MGymDynasty a reality. Although we've faced countless setbacks this year, it has not discouraged us in attempting to complete a historic season; in fact these hardships have only fueled our hunger to win it all. We compete for the block M on our chests. We compete to uphold the traditions of excellence at this great University. We compete for something bigger than all of us -- The Team, The Team, The Team.
Come out to Crisler Center on Thursday, April 10, through Saturday, April 12, and watch us fight to keep the championship in Michigan! Don't forget to "Like" Michigan Men's Gymnastics on Facebook and follow @umichgym on Twitter and Instagram for the latest news and inside photos on all things Michigan Men's Gymnastics.
And as always, GO BLUE!
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