Week #9: Wolverines to Go for Fifth NCAA Championships Title

April 16, 2013

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Friday-Sunday, April 19-21 -- at NCAA Championships (State College, Pa.), 1 p.m./7 p.m./2 p.m.

NCAA Champions in Michigan History

The No. 3-ranked University of Michigan men's gymnastics team (17-2, 7-1 Big Ten) looks to capture the program's fifth NCAA title and first since 2010 this Friday through Sunday (April 19-21) at the 2013 NCAA Championships in State College, Pa. The event starts at 1 p.m. Friday, 7 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday inside Penn State's Recreation Hall Building.

Michigan, which earned a spot in the first group for being ranked No. 3 in the GymInfo Poll, will take part in team qualifier session No. 1 on Friday (April 19). The session commences at 1 p.m., along with No. 11 Air Force, No. 7 Illinois, No. 6 Minnesota, No. 10 Nebraska, and No. 2 Oklahoma.

If the Wolverines finish in the top three of that grouping, the team advances to the team final competition Saturday (April 20) at 7 p.m. Event finals will be held Sunday (April 21) at 2 p.m.

U-M is ranked No. 3 in the GymInfo rankings with a 436.261 four-meet average and is No. 1 on a trio of events in floor (74.737), vault (74.887) and parallel bars (73.687). The Wolverines hold the No. 2 spot on still rings (75.112) and are No. 4 on pommel horse (71.000) and No. 6 on high bar (71.000).

The Wolverines boast several gymnasts with legitimate NCAA title aspirations, beginning with junior Sam Mikulak, the defending NCAA high bar champion from a year ago. Mikulak is No. 10 on still rings (15.037), No. 1 on parallel bars (15.287) and No. 6 on high bar (14.775). Additionally, he won the all-around competition as a freshman in 2011 and earned a runner-up finish behind Jake Dalton of Oklahoma in 2012. At this season's Big Ten Championships, he scored the highest all-around score in the country this year, winning the Big Ten title once again with an 89.700. Sophomore Adrian de los Angeles currently leads the nation in all-around average with a 88.242.

Sophomore Stacey Ervin ranks No. 2 on floor (15.675) and vault (15.225) nationally. He owns the highest score on floor in the country this season (16.150) and the fourth-highest vault score in the country this season (15.45).

Mikulak, senior Syque Caesar and de los Angeles own the top three PB spots in the country on the event. Mikulak, the current NCAA record-holder on the apparatus, is flanked by Caesar, the former record holder, who averages a 15.056, while de los Angeles is No. 3 with a 15.050.

U-M boasts 30 individual national champions, with Mikulak being the lone current Wolverine to boast a national title (all-around in 2011, high bar in 2012) to go along with 130 NCAA All-Americans. U-M has won four titles in program history (1963, 1970, 1999, and 2010), with two coming under the guidance of head coach Kurt Golder (1999, 2010). Prior to capturing the NCAA title in all four of those years, U-M won the Big Ten title.

Last season, Ervin earned All-America honors on floor and vault, while Mikulak took home the accolades in the all-around. Last year, U-M took sixth overall at the championship after boasting the top day-one score in the team qualifier of either session.

At Big Tens, U-M captured its 16th conference title in program history, including four individual crowns, with Mikulak garnering 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 15.7000 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 last 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, we 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.

Michigan has won nearly half of the Big Ten Gymnast of the Week Awards this season.

1/21 -- Adrian de los Angeles
1/28 -- Syque Caesar
2/12 -- Adrian de los Angeles
2/18 -- Stacey Ervin
3/25 -- Sam Mikulak

U-M has also collected four College Gymnastics Association Gymnast of the Week Awards, awarded to the top national gymnast of the week.

1/21 -- Adrian de los Angeles
1/28 -- Syque Caesar
2/12 -- Adrian de los Angeles
3/27 -- Adrian de los Angeles
4/11 -- Sam Mikulak

The Wolverines have won a total of 35 event titles this season heading into postseason competition. The event breakdown is as follows:

Floor, 6 (Ervin 6, Caesar 1)
Horse, 2 (Freeman 2)
Rings, 4 (Freeman 4)
Vault, 5 (De los Angeles 2, Ervin, Strathern, Mikulak 1)
Parallel bars, 5 (Caesar 3, Mikulak, Strathern, de los Angeles 1)
High Bar, 3 (Caesar, Strathern, Mikulak, 2)
All-Around, 5 (De los Angeles 5, Mikulak, 1)

The team fell against the vaunted No. 1 Penn State Nittany Lions, 437.300-430.400, on Saturday, March 16. U-M won two events on the night on vault and parallel bars, while Ervin won the lone individual event title with a 15.30 on floor. U-M competed without de los Angeles, who took part in the Kyle Shewfelt Gymnastics Festival in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, where De los Angeles took fifth in the all-around with an 80.650, highlighted by a runner-up 14.80 on parallel bars.


S. Mikulak Sam Mikulak
Corona del Mar, Calif.

On the team's morale after winning the Big Ten title ... "It gave us a little boost. We're now feeling a little more confident in our gymnastics. Not just because we won, but because we hit so many more sets than we had all season. It gives us the mindset that we're ready and we're confident and we're ready to go put on an even better show at the NCAA Championships."

On the team's dominance on parallel bars ... "It's just an event that Michigan seems to excel at. We have seven or eight gymnasts on p-bars who can do "peach half" which is a very difficult skill. It says a lot about your team if everyone can do that skill. I think we have each other to work off of in order to build our parallel bars team to be what it is now, and it's that depth that pushes everyone to be better than one another."

On competing at Penn State for the NCAA championship ... "There are some factors to it. It being at home for them, they're going to have bigger crowd support. Maybe that will help them, or maybe it will hinder them if they can't handle the big cheers or pressure. They're a great team, so I'm just going to assume it's going to help them out. We just have to stay focused on our gymnastics and make sure that at the end of the day we don't have any regrets, we're not disappointed, and we're happy with how we performed. I think if we do that, we'll come out on top."

On his and fellow teammate Adrian de los Angeles' No. 1 and 2 all-around finishes at Big Tens ... "I think just the fact that it's a five up five count format and that we're still able to have all-arounders with that kind of format, it says a lot about Michigan for being able to create gymnasts that are able to be well rounded enough to be top five on each event out of the whole entire team. I think that stands out a lot because we work on our weaknesses where other teams might work on their strengths. We're always trying to make our worst event our best, and I think that's really a quality that stands out at Michigan."

On this year's increased attention ... "I keep an open mind. I say hello to everybody, I try to be as friendly as I possibly can and just appreciate all the support fans of Michigan, Michigan gymnastics, and myself are offering me."

• On Senior Night 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 while 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 accolades.

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 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.

• Michigan will enter week three of the 2013 season ranked No. 3 in the GymInfo national rankings. In individual events, U-M ranks in the top-six in all-six events.

U-M National Ranks (Average)
Floor, 1st -- 74.737
Pommel Horse, 4th --71.000
Still Rings, 2nd -- 75.112
Vault, 1st -- 74.887
Parallel Bars, 1st -- 73.687
High Bar, 6th--71.000


2. Ervin 15.675
9. Caesar 15.100
10. de los Angeles 15.037

Still Rings
7. Freeman 15.381
10. Mikulak 15.175

2. Ervin 15.225

Parallel Bars
1. Mikulak 15.287
2. Caesar 15.056
3. de los Angeles 15.050

High Bar
6. Mikulak 14.775

1. de los Angeles 88.242

2013 GymInfo Coaches' Poll
1. Penn State
2. Oklahoma
4. Stanford
5. Ohio State
6. Minnesota
7. Illinois
8. Iowa
9. Cal
10. Nebraska
11. Air Force
12. William & Mary
13. Temple
14. Army
15. UIC

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. A special feature will be available to U-M fans, as program assistant Ian Makowske will be manning a live blog, that features insight on routines and live updates from the competition floor.

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