Chris Cameron wins Big Ten all-around crown

Emily Chiu/Daily
Junior Chris Cameron competed on the rings at the Big Ten Men's Gymnastics Championship on April 2, 2010. Michigan placed second, behind Illinois. Buy this photo

BY MICHAEL LAURILA
Daily Sports Writer
Published April 4, 2010

COLUMBUS — When junior Chris Cameron finished second at the Winter Cup Invitational in February and was named the second-best gymnast in America, that was only the beginning.

This past weekend at the Big Ten Championships, Cameron won the all-around competition and floor exercise, becoming the second straight Wolverine to win the crown. He was named to the first team All-Big Ten for the second consecutive year, and was given the Big Ten Gymnast of the Year award.

Even having accomplished all that, Cameron was disappointed, since the fourth-ranked Wolverines weren't able to bring home a Big Ten Championship on Friday night.

"I just had a decent night," Cameron said. "Floor was definitely the best event I had. I don't think I've ever gotten into that mode before when I just felt like a piece of steel flipping around out there."

And with the all-around win, Cameron, and last year's champion Thomas Kelley still have one more year of eligibility left.

“I think (Cameron) just has an inner drive to succeed and become the best gymnast he can become,” Michigan coach Kurt Golder said. “It’s really hard to find, and we’re fortunate at Michigan to have a guy that’s driven that hard.”

Cameron is only a junior, yet he has accomplished more in his first three years than many Wolverines have in their entire careers. Cameron was a 2009 NCAA All-American, and has a good shot at repeating that honor when the Wolverines compete at NCAAs in two weeks.

“He’s more dedicated than any other gymnast I’ve ever met,” junior Thomas Kelley, last years all-around champion, said. “He’s got that little extra drive and little extra confidence that I think a lot of us aspire to have in our gymnastics. Just to go out, and know that you’re going to hit no matter what. Chris doesn’t waver. He’s always rock solid.”

Cameron was also the runner-up on the still rings and made the finals on Saturday on the parallel bars and pommel horse.

Both Cameron and Kelley have one year of eligibility remaining.

Not only is he particularly driven, but he also has a natural ability to push his teammates. He is a perfect model of one who leads by example.

“He goes the extra mile to make sure he’s doing everything right,” redshirt senior Ryan McCarthy said. “When somebody would be tired and cash in and go to the showers, he takes that extra turn, even when he’s tired. He’s really awesome to work out with because he’s motivating for everyone. He holds everyone to a high standard and that’s really good for our program.”

In two weeks, Cameron will try to lead Michigan to its first National Championship since 1999.

When asked what the team will need to do, Cameron didn’t chalk it up to simply getting better and hitting all of its sets.

“We got to stop messing around and trying to minimize deductions and stuff like that," Cameron said. "Minimal shouldn’t be in our vocabulary anymore. Maximize score, maximize height and maximize distance. Everything we do has to be bigger, faster, and stronger.”