As Jacob Moore prepared for his final tumbling pass, the crowd at Crisler Center cheered for him to stick the landing of the triple twist. He landed with his feet glued to the floor, just as he’s done multiple times this season.
The judges rewarded the freshman’s clean floor routine with a score of 14.700 — the highest score of the night on the event — in the team competition of the men’s gymnastics Big Ten Championships, where No. 5 Michigan finished in second place with a score of 408.600, just over five points behind No. 8 Illinois’ score of 413.900.
The Wolverines opened the competition on floor, with Moore, redshirt junior Marty Strech and junior Emyre Cole executing their routines well to earn scores in the 14s. All three qualified for Saturday’s event final, and the scores for the team competition allowed Michigan to get out to a strong start.
“Strong scores, pretty good landings for almost everybody,” said Michigan coach Kurt Golder of the first event. “A good start to the meet, good event for us to start on.”
Moore led off on pommel horse with a low-scoring routine, requiring his teammates to step up and hit clean routines to get the team back in the hunt for a Big Ten title. Sophomore Mack Lasker answered the bell with a score of 14.000, tied for his second-best mark of the season.
The Wolverines built on the pommel horse momentum and earned a competition-high 68.700 on rings, with each gymnast scoring into the 13s and freshman Cameron Bock scoring 14.050, just .05 below his best mark of the season.
Senior Dmitri Belanovski was up first on rings and capped a well-executed routine with a stuck dismount to score 13.850. Three of his four teammates also stuck their dismounts, earning Belanovski, Bock and junior Ryan Dunning spots in the individual event final.
“We had our highest stick percentage on rings since I’ve been at Michigan tonight,” Golder said. “You eliminate some deductions, you get some bonus points. It’s just steady, keep plugging away, and usually you get better.”
Vault has been a strong event for Michigan all season, and that trend continued Friday. Freshman Nick Guy and Moore both stuck their vaults, and Cole took just a small step on his own vault landing.
Junior Anthony McCallum returned to the vault lineup for the first time since suffering an injury in January and landed his Tsukahara double pike on his feet for the first time all season to earn the second-highest score of the day on the event.
“It was nerve-wracking, it actually was a little bit more nerve-wracking than I wanted it to be,” McCallum said. “Last night I was like, ‘Okay, it doesn’t matter if I fall,’ just to give myself a little bit of margin for error, but once I got up there I was like, ‘Wow, I really wanna land this because I wanna help the team.’ … Once I landed it, I was just excited to have that over with.”
The Wolverines headed into the fifth event, parallel bars, with the best score among teams that had already taken their bye. Belanovski led off with a clean routine, but trouble ensued when junior Uche Eke stepped up to the bars.
Eke struggled early in his routine before falling on his dismount, notching a score of only 11.300. Cole, McCallum and Bock all hit clean routines with McCallum securing a spot in the event final, but the scores left Michigan in need of a season-best performance on high bar to secure the win.
A week after earning their best score of the season, inconsistency crept in for the Wolverines. Redshirt junior Alec Krystek stuck his dismount and earned a score of 13.250 in the leadoff spot, followed by another clean routine from Strech.
Belanovski started well, but he slipped going to a handstand and nearly fell, which caused him to receive a large deduction and score 12.550. Then Eke missed the bar on his difficult Kovacs release and fell, effectively ending Michigan’s chance at a win.
“We’ve already changed the routines,” Golder said. “I think maybe in (Belanovski’s) case he was trying to be too perfect, he put it right in the handstand and it went the wrong way. Uche just happened to miss the release, the rest of it was okay, and when you do that skill, you know, it’s a D because it’s high risk. D-value, you run a little higher risk, and sometimes you miss it.”
Inconsistency on parallel bars and high bar has been an issue for the Wolverines all season, and Friday night, it cost them a Big Ten title.
In two weeks, it could cost them a chance at a national title.