June 27, 2014
Kurt Golder, the 2014 Big Ten Coach of the Year, sits down to talk about the team's NCAA title run, expectations for next season's squad and coaching staff, and plans for the remainder of summer.
Q: What are early expectations for next season, and can the team once again contend for the Big Ten and NCAA team titles?
A: "That's my early expectation, to contend for the NCAA and Big Ten team championship. Obviously we lost a lot of guys, but we have some talented guys coming in. Like we've done in the past, we have to rely on the development of the upperclassmen as well, who can step in and make an impact."
Q: How does keeping Syque Caesar and Sam Mikulak around the gym in their new roles benefit the program as a whole?
A: "That lies ahead, but anytime you have guys of that caliber, it has to be appealing to recruits. These guys are what they aspire to be and become. It has to be very helpful in the recruiting world. In addition, they are both great leaders with different styles. Syque is a more vocal leader, while Sam is more of a 'get it done when you have to' kind of guy. Both of them are tremendous assets."
Q: How will the incoming freshman class be able to assist the team and make contributions?
A: "I think a couple of them may redshirt, who are likely to be development guys rather than immediate impact guys. But, there are also a couple of good guys who will contribute a lot right away, and we are counting on them to do that."
Q: With the graduation of seven seniors, how do you plan on replacing the fifteen routines from last season's NCAAs?
A: "That would be the combination of upperclassmen stepping up and filling in, as well as freshmen coming in. On top of that, we had several guys redshirt last year like Mike Strathern and Reid Swanger. Also, Adrian (de los Angeles) didn't compete for us last year in the postseason, along with Stacey Ervin being limited. The combination of those three components will help us be in contention again."
Q: How does the most recent NCAA title compare to past NCAA championships?
A: "They all feel great. The first one is special and the most recent one -- being at home -- really stand out. But in the moment, they all feel the same."
Q: How have large senior classes benefited the past ... and hopefully aid in the future?
A: "They've been beneficial in the fact that they had been there and done that. They knew how to handle adversity and help any of the underclassmen that may have needed help to handle certain situations."
Q: What's been the key to success over these past two seasons in comparison to previous years?
A: "I think it is hunger and desire. They wanted it. It wasn't like the coaches had to do the motivation. It was there definitely in 2013, and I think what also helped was hosting NCAAs this past year. It may have been a bit more of a challenge to repeat had we not been hosting, but when you're hosting and you haven't for a long time ... that definitely gave a lot of incentive."
Q: Plans for the upcoming summer?
A: "Continue doing what we have been doing, consistently training and improving every day. At the end of the summer, we want to be able to say that we are better than we were at the start of the summer. The training schedule is not a sprint, it's a marathon. We have to train consistently and wisely from now to NCAAs"
Q: How has training been since NCAAs concluded?
A: "Training has been going steady overall. In the summertime, it's the steady day after day progression that's taking place and it won't look like the most dynamic practice, but in the end it comes through. It's all about making steady progress and being better at the end of the summer than you were in the beginning of the summer."
Q: Which events will be the biggest strength for the team next season?
A: "It's hard to say, we have to see how the team develops. Vault and parallel bars have been strong events for us, and likely will continue to be. Development needs to take place on all the events in order for us to be where we want to be. We lost a lot of our rings lineup, but we have some guys coming in and some coming off a redshirt that will help."
Contact: Scott Kemps