Michigan handles the pressure in win over Ohio State
The pressure of going last is no problem for Dmitri Belanovski.
The senior knew the stakes when he stepped up to the high bar for the No. 7 Michigan men’s gymnastics team’s final routine of the day. A poor performance would have meant a second consecutive loss for the Wolverines, but Belanovski hit a high bar routine packed with difficult releases and ended with a stuck dismount to give the team its first win of the season, defeating No. 6 Ohio State.
“I love going last. When the pressure’s on, I’m usually at my best,” Belanovski said. “That’s what I’m here for.”
Michigan opened the competition on floor exercise, where freshman Jacob Moore stuck multiple tumbling passes, including his final triple full, on his way to a score of 14.950 — the new NCAA-leading score on floor.
Following Moore was Anthony McCallum. The junior fell on his first tumbling pass, then went down on his third pass with an injury.
However, the Wolverines were able to bounce back when junior Emyre Cole flew high on his tumbling passes in an energetic routine to score 14.50 and place second on the event.
Michigan had difficulty on pommel horse, with freshman Cameron Bock and junior Mack Lasker both falling during their routines. Moore and junior Uche Eke earned the team's top scores on pommel horse, scoring 13.85 and 13.75, respectively.
After competing in just two meets in 2017 and missing the entire 2016 season with injuries, sixth-year senior Tristian Perez-Rivera made his long-awaited return to competition on the still rings with a score of 13.80. Redshirt junior Marty Strech performed well with strong holds and only a small misstep on his dismount to tie for fourth place on the event with a score of 14.20.
Five of the six Michigan gymnasts performed a Kasamatsu full on vault, with Krystek sticking his landing.
Cole stood in for the injured McCallum as the anchor on the vault and performed an excellent Yurchenko with two and a half twists to score 14.30 and win the event title.
“I had a little bit of a mental block going into vault … so today just felt great to break that and just represent Michigan,” Cole said. “We have this saying in the gym, we say ‘Be prepared, just be ready to handle anything.’ We weren’t going to let (McCallum’s injury) stop us from winning today.”
Eke stuck his double pike dismount on the parallel bars to cap off a skillful routine that scored 14.15, good for third on the event. Belanovski stuck his double pike as well, placing slightly lower than Eke with a score of 14.10.
Going into the final event, both teams were fired up and chanting along with the fans in what appeared to be a competition for which team and its fans could be louder. This fire was a great sign for the Wolverines, who lost energy toward the end of their loss against Oklahoma.
“We talked about it after the last week’s meet, and we talked about it just prior to the meet during lineup,” said Michigan coach Kurt Golder. “I think it was their focus.”
Coming off of a difficult competition on high bar against Oklahoma, the Wolverines were locked in. Krystek led off with a solid routine with no major errors. Bock recovered from his fall in the previous meet to put in a clean routine that ended with a nearly stuck dismount, earning Michigan’s highest score on the high bar and placing second overall on the event.
The meet came down to the final competitor. Belanovski’s stuck dismount and resulting score of 13.10 were met with celebration from his teammates and gave the Wolverines the 411.850-410.650 victory over the Buckeyes.
Michigan fought hard for its first win of the season, making the celebration after the final routine that much more enjoyable.
“I didn’t know (we had won), really, until after the meet was over.” Golder said. “I thought we had won, but they’re a very strong team, we just feel very fortunate that we got by them.”