Anthony McCallum was, literally and figuratively, the high point of Saturday’s intrasquad meet for the Michigan men’s gymnastics team.
Though his Blue team ultimately fell to the Maize team, it took the junior all of 30 seconds to post the top score of the day with his Tsukahara double pike vault.
His vault, which consists of a round-off onto the springboard, a half-turn onto the table and two backflips in the pike position, is one of the most difficult routines currently being done. As the defending NCAA Vault champion, McCallum’s primary challenge will be maintaining an upward trajectory this year.
“He’s in championship form right now,” said Michigan coach Kurt Golder. “We just hope that nobody can catch up to him.”
Thanks to his powerful tumbling and the routine’s high level of difficulty, McCallum also won the individual all-around with a score of 80.85.
But unlike the vault, McCallum’s all-around victory wasn’t a foregone conclusion. Freshman Cameron Bock gave him a run for his money leading up until the final rotation. Then, a fall on his parallel bars dismount dropped him into second.
Bock’s performance — including a first-place finish on the still rings and second place on the pommel horse, high bar and the all-around — sent a message to the team’s veterans: don’t get too comfortable.
“I think what’s gonna help them is (the freshmen) putting heat on the upperclassmen,” Golder said. “They’re gonna take some lineup spots.”
But with his fall in the final rotation, Bock also demonstrated some of the same struggles that led the Wolverines to a disappointing seventh-place finish in last year’s Big Ten Championships.
“We’re gonna focus more on consistency,” Golder said. “If we can establish a little better consistency, it’ll take us a long way.”
Even more than the pommel horse — an event that has plagued Michigan in the past — Saturday’s meet revealed a need to focus on the parallel bars. Due to McCallum’s lofty 15.8 start value, he won the apparatus despite putting his knee down on his double pike dismount.
The news on parallel bars isn’t all bad, though. The team now knows what it must focus on in preparation for regular season meets.
“Make a few adjustments,” Golder said. “Sacrifice a little bit of difficulty so that we’re reducing the risk of missing a routine.”
Amid tentative performances from some of his teammates, junior Uche Eke provided the Maize team with much-needed steadiness. Though he competed only on the high bar, parallel bars and pommel horse, Eke contributed the top execution score on all three — good enough for top-three finishes despite low start values.
But Eke has more up his sleeve. He didn’t showcase the full difficulty of his routines due to a hand injury, but he’s been training a new release move that could make him an even bigger asset on high bar for the Wolverines.
“It’s a big-time skill, very exciting,” Golder said. “We’ll have that back in for sure.”
A recent surgery limited freshman Jacob Moore to just three events, but he too flashed immense potential. He placed first on floor with a 14.3 — the second-highest individual score of the meet — and third on the pommel horse with a 13.65.
On the former, Moore made his case to be a worthy addition to the lineup on one of Michigan’s strongest events. On the latter, he provided some much-needed stability to a potential Achilles heel for the Wolverines.
At full strength, Moore’s form and execution make him a threat in the all-around, indicating that bigger things are to come for a young Michigan squad.