Gymnast Fred Richard does a split in the air above the parallel bars during Michigan’s meet in Cliff Keen Arena.
The No. 5 Michigan men's gymnastics team recovered from a tough road trip against No. 3 Ohio State. Lila Turner/Daily. Buy this photo.

The Michigan men’s gymnastics team pulled off a hard-fought victory over its archrival, Ohio State, this Saturday for its first Big Ten win of the season.

Across six events, the Wolverines (2-0 overall, 1-0 Big Ten) outscored the Buckeyes (0-1, 0-1) 409.200 – 404.000. After a demanding meet on the road the previous weekend, Michigan coach Yuan Xiao spoke to the Wolverines recovery process.

“We had a rough meet last week,” Xiao said. “We competed at (the) Rocky Mountain Open. It’s a tough schedule … when we came back we knew where we needed to prepare physically and mentally.”

If the Wolverines were feeling some fatigue after going on the road, they didn’t show it. Sophomore Lais Najjar got the meet started with a strong performance on the floor, earning a 5.2 difficulty score and a 9.0 in execution for a combined score of 14.2. Freshman Landen Blixt took first place in the event with 14.65. 

Michigan maintained its overall lead on the pommel and rings but Ohio State kept it close, taking first place in both events. Following the vault, the running score was 272.400 – 269.400 in Michigan’s favor. Sophomore David Wolma helped keep the Wolverines in front with a first-place score of 14.75 — his career-best. 

From there it was all about freshman Fred Richard. On the parallel bars, Richard took first place with an impressive score of 14.85, and on the high bar the freshman once again secured the top spot, scoring 5.9 in difficulty and 8.75 in execution. 

Senior Adam Wooten competed for the Wolverines on the floor and the high bar, helping them outscore the Buckeyes in both events and finishing with 27.8 points.

Spirits were high in the Cliff Keen Arena after the final scores were announced, but Michigan said it isn’t satisfied yet. 

“I’m happy for our performance today, I think we have a lot more to give though,” Wooten said. “I think we have a lot more difficulty that we can put into our routines and I also think we have a lot more execution. We can hit more sets, we can do more flawless gymnastics.”

Xiao echoed the sentiment that his team has lofty goals.

“As usual we’re gonna take the Big Ten championship seriously … We are definitely a good team to challenge (for) it.” Xiao said. 

There is still plenty of time before Michigan heads to Columbus to contend for the Big Ten Championship in March, but if Saturday was any indication, this team is hungry for opportunities to prove itself. Judging by their performance Saturday, the Wolverines have plenty of talent to do that.