With a strong routine and nearly flawless dismount, fifth-year senior captain Michael Strathern capped off a convincing victory for the Michigan men’s gymnastics team with a 15.250 score on high bar, securing the event title over No. 19 Illinois-Chicago. Cliff Keen Arena erupted as Strathern brought an end to a magical Saturday evening for the departing Wolverine seniors.
Each of the three seniors won titles in their signature events: senior Nolan Novak with a 14.550 on pommel horse, senior Colin Mahar with a 15.600 on still rings and Strathern on high bar. The seniors’ performances propelled No. 10 Michigan to a large lead, ending the meet with a 429.750-368.000 win.
With the exception of the upcoming Big Ten Championships, the seniors could not have picked a better night to dominate. Like most collegiate athletic programs, the Wolverines dedicate a meet to honoring the graduating senior class. Evidently, the Michigan seniors embraced their night of recognition and made their teammates, coaches, family and friends proud.
Michigan coach Kurt Golder did not hold back in expressing his pride.
“I’m a very emotional guy when it comes to things like that,” Golder said. “They all had stuck dismounts, so they can all go out of their last career meet at Michigan and always remember it: ‘I hit my routine, I stuck my dismount and the crowd went wild.’ It will be a memory that sticks with them for the rest of their lives. It’s a perfect ending.”
This perfect ending, however, was not taken in vain. The seniors collectively expressed how humbled they were and their gratitude toward their supporters. All three emphasized the indispensable role that their team played in their development and success. According to Mahar, this support extended well beyond the mat, as the camaraderie among the team helped them become better people.
“I started out quiet, didn’t talk much,” Mahar said. “The team helped me pushed my boundaries. They supported me socially, academically and athletically. They’re always behind me.”
The team bids a proud farewell to Mahar, who will begin to pursue a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Texas-Dallas next term.
Strathern echoed Mahar’s sentiments regarding the importance and impact of his teammates and coaches, as they guided him through his adversity-riddled, five-year career at Michigan. Strathern’s numerous injuries have made it difficult for him to get in a rhythm or cultivate his skills, and Strathern emphasized how meaningful Senior Day was to him.
“I’ve been through a lot of injuries, and to end off my career with the last event with an event win and a stuck dismount was incredible,” Strathern said. “It’s something I’ll never forget.”
As the Wolverines approach the Big Ten Championships this upcoming weekend, they can go in with momentum knowing that the seniors, and the rest of the team, put on a show for their home crowd.
While he recognizes that the season is far from over, Novak expressed his hopes for the future of the program, emphasizing the message that he wants to leave to his younger teammates.
“I really want to instill my work ethic in the guys that came in this year,” Novak said. “We have a lot of freshmen with potential, and I just want to instill that work ethic in them and leave my legacy that way. I think that these guys still on the team here can do it.”
With a group of talented young teammates to follow them, the three seniors say goodbye to Ann Arbor knowing the future of the program is in good hands.