All season, the Michigan men’s gymnastics team has struggled with the same problem: a mediocre team performance contrasted with flashes of individual greatness. This past weekend, at the NCAA Championships in Columbus, that trend continued.
The Wolverines (1-6 Big Ten, 8-23 overall) failed to qualify for the final round of the NCAA Championships — dubbed the Super Six — after a poor showing in the preliminary round Friday. Six teams competed in two sessions, with the top three from each advancing to the final round Saturday.
Michigan wasn’t close to qualifying, however, finishing in fifth place with a score of 422.150. To qualify for the Super Six, the Wolverines would have needed to outscore Big Ten foe Illinois — which scored 432.050 points — for third place.
“It’s a disappointment,” said Michigan coach Kurt Golder. “I knew we weren’t going to be a National Championship contender, but I knew we had the potential enough to make the Super Six, and we didn’t accomplish that.”
Despite the poor team performance Friday, seven gymnasts scored well enough on specific events to qualify for the NCAA Individual Finals, which took place later in the day on Saturday.
“(Friday) evening, they were disappointed, but I think they used it as motivation the next day,” Golder said. “It didn’t appear to me that anyone was moping around or anything, they appeared pretty excited about the opportunity that lied in front of them.”
Sophomore Dmitri Belanovski captured two All-America honors in the same day after finishing seventh in the All-Around and fifth on the floor. Fifth-year senior Colin Mahar — competing in his final meet for Michigan — tied third on the rings to also garner All-America honors.
But the most notable performance was by freshman Anthony McCallum. Competing at his first-ever NCAA Championship, McCallum scored a 15.550 on the vault, taking home an individual national title in that event by 0.200 points. The championship came two weeks after McCallum set an NCAA record while winning the vault title at the Big Ten Championships.
“It wasn’t a surprise to me,” Golder said. “He’s competed at the vault all year, and I thought he was being underscored all year. But at the Big Tens and NCAAs, he was getting more of the scores he deserved.”
The 2016 season will go down as a disappointment in Golder’s mind, who is just two years removed from back-to-back national titles. But, much like the rest of the season, disappointing team results were mixed with stellar individual performances.