Friday evening, the Michigan men’s gymnastics team was outmatched in Columbus. While the Wolverines certainly were not the tournament favorite, they did not expect to finish last. However, after the team competition, Michigan finished with a total of 417.250, the lowest among the seven participating Big Ten teams.
Despite a poor outcome, head coach Kurt Golder remained focused on the positives.
“I’ve seen a team like Penn State do badly in Big Tens and then win NCAAs the following week,” Golder said. “I’m just going to try to restore their confidence. I’m always big on the positives. Take the good that we have and just build on that.”
Golder was not wrong. Despite a poor overall performance, Michigan had outstanding performances on Friday in team competition and then in the individual championships for the five Wolverines who qualified for the NCAA Championships.
Freshman Anthony McCallum was the story of the weekend for Michigan. McCallum stayed true to his No. 1 national ranking in vault, as he held the highest score both days with a 15.400 on Friday and a 15.675 on Saturday, breaking his personal record. With a remarkably high degree of difficulty, McCallum achieved this score without a perfectly stuck landing. While satisfied with McCallum’s performance, Golder believes the All-American freshman still has room to grow.
“(McCallum will) probably just get a little more consistent at perfecting the landing,” Golder said. “The vault was already a very high difficulty, and it is a very clean vault, but he usually gets a three-tenths deduction on the landing. He can make a huge score if he can stick.”
According to Golder, McCallum has a very bright future ahead. However, McCallum was not the only Wolverine freshman honored over the weekend. Both he and fellow freshman Emyre Cole earned first-team All-Big Ten accolades. Cole finished sixth in the all-around on Friday with an 84.950 and qualified for Saturday’s individual finals on floor.
Senior Colin Mahar, meanwhile, qualified in the still rings with a score of 15.400, matching his career high for the third meet in a row. He went on to achieve another impressive 15.000 in the individual championships the next day.
Despite the team’s performance, Golder remains confident in his athletes. With plenty of young talent, the Wolverines have a lot of potential for upward mobility. Michigan will look to avenge its woes in two weeks at the NCAA Championships.