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Kelley and Vance lead injury ridden Wolverines to win over UIC

BY MATT SPELICH
Daily Sports Writer
Published February 20, 2011

Senior Tomas Kelley and junior Andrew Vance led the Michigan men’s gymnastics team to a 341.9-322.7 win over University of Illinois at Chicago this past weekend. While the meet was essentially decided after the first three rotations, Michigan showed some weak points late.

The Wolverines began the day by posting their lowest score of the season in floor. But despite the early adversity, Michigan managed to take an early lead on UIC and stay on top for the rest of the meet.

While the Wolverines still managed to win floor by a landslide, they came up .05 points short of a win in the high bar. Kelley, who took a close second on the high bar, was not impressed with the team’s performance.

“The high bar and floor were both really disappointing events for us today,” Kelley said. “It was completely unacceptable, especially this late in the season. We’re a championship team and we need to be competing at that level.”

Kelley continued to lead the team, taking first on the parallel bars and second on the rings. Vance took first in the rings with a career-high of 15.05 — a score that earned him the coveted Newt Loken Award given by the alumni for the best performance of the night. It's something Vance has dreamed of earning for a long time.

“It all came together perfectly today, I felt like I was in the zone,” Vance said. “The award was something I’ve been hoping to earn since I began my career at Michigan. Newt left a tremendous legacy here. It’s an honor to be given this award and I feel very humbled to be a part of his legacy.”

Michigan was a bit short-handed in its talent wheelhouse this week because of injuries. With the noticed absence of major point-contributor freshman Sam Mikulak and the continuing rehabilitation of injured senior Chris Cameron, it's clear how and why the Wolverines put up such low numbers as a unit.

Michigan hosts No. 3 Stanford next Saturday at Cliff Keen Arena.

“With the match against Stanford I don’t see us making any routine adjustments, we’re just looking to make little tweaks and focus on perfection," Michigan coach Kurt Golder said. "I think with Sam and Chris back in the lineup next week we’ll be able to pull it all together.”