On Senior Day for the No. 10 Michigan men’s gymnastics team, a combination of young and old talent led the Wolverines to a victory against No. 19 Illinois-Chicago.
Michigan (1-6 Big Ten, 5-9 overall) came out of the gates strong, putting up impressive floor routine scores. Though fifth-year senior Michael Strathern struggled during his routine and failed to stick his landings, senior Adam Dean picked up his teammate with an impressive performance. Dean received a 15.050 for his routine, a floor high for the day and Dean’s career high as well.
The Wolverines’ floor scores were key, as they gave the team an early lead over the Flames. Illinois-Chicago suffered from being down a man in the floor routines — it had just four gymnasts perform, compared to Michigan’s five. This helped the Wolverines outscore Illinois-Chicago 72.550-52.700 in the event.
The Flames put together an impressive show on the pommel horse, scoring just 3.350 fewer points than the Wolverines, even though they competed with fewer gymnasts. Though Michigan struggled early, it found itself up 23.200 points after two events.
“At the beginning of the day, I didn’t feel too good, but that’s part of the sport sometime,” said freshman Anthony McCallum.
Though McCallum got off to a slow start, he put together an impressive résumé for the day. Along with setting individual records, McCallum placed second in three events, and first in the parallel bars.
With two events down, Michigan looked to expand its lead in the rings competition. And it was an opportunity for senior Colin Mahar to put on a show of his own for Senior Day.
Last week, Mahar received a score of 15.600, just 0.050 away from tying the program record. Saturday, Mahar received the same score. He showed excellent body control and posture during his routine and finished strong, sticking his landing.
In addition to Mahar performing well on the rings, McCallum was impressive as well. He received a score of 15.100 — a career high for the freshman.
The highlight of the day for the Wolverines came during the vault portion of the meet. After strong efforts from the first three Michigan gymnasts, the Wolverines capped their vault routines and stunned the crowd with two impressive performances. First, freshman Emyre Cole soared off the vault and flew through the air to a score of 15.500, setting the program vault record. He was followed by McCallum, who received a 15.250. The mark set him a season high, and it would have been even higher had he stuck the landing.
Michigan coach Kurt Golder was impressed with Cole and McCallum’s performance, but was not satisfied.
“McCallum is the No. 1 vaulter in the nation, but that wasn’t his best vault,” said Golder.
After performing well on the parallel bars, the Wolverines only had one event remaining and held a comfortable lead of 359.700-310.400. Strathern, who had struggled earlier in the day during his floor routine, looked to end his Michigan regular-season career on a high note. Strathern put together a strong high bar routine and stuck his landing. He led the team with a score of 15.250.
“I’ve been playing around with some new routines that I haven’t tried out until today,” Strathern said. “I think I’m going to stick with it.”
Even though the Wolverines won by a score of 429.750-368.000, Golder was not completely satisfied with his team’s performance as it failed to set various records planned before the meet.
“It’s good to get a victory, but I was a little bit disappointed,” Golder said. “We had five missed routines last week, and this week we had seven. We didn’t accomplish any of our three goals for the meet, so a little bit disappointed.”
The lack of satisfaction will likely motivate the Wolverines to compete at the best of their ability as they enter Big Ten postseason play.