Wolverines swing into season with victory over Minnesota

Sunday, January 27, 2019 - 6:57pm

Cameron Bock earned a 14.700 on the parallel bars, the second-highest score in the country this season.

Cameron Bock earned a 14.700 on the parallel bars, the second-highest score in the country this season. Buy this photo
Natalie Stephens/Daily

Cameron Bock took a deep breath as he dangled from the parallel bars.

The sophomore gymnast rolled his feet forward and remained calm as he swung his body above the wooden beams. His teammates on the No. 3 Michigan men’s gymnastics team went wild as he dismounted, flipping through the air with his legs held at a seamless 90-degree angle in front of his body. The board flashed 14.700, earning Bock the second-highest parallel bar score in the country this season.

Bock's performance aided the Wolverines Saturday in their 413.150-408.300 defeat of powerhouse No. 7 Minnesota.

When asked if the unfamiliar matchup — Michigan's first competition against the Golden Gophers in 12 years — added any stress, Michigan coach Kurt Golder said that he thought it was more so an exciting experience for the athletes.

“None of the guys have ever been there,” Golder said. “They are used to Ohio State and Illinois. I think it was something they were looking forward to.”

The Wolverines' triumph landed them the title of being the second highest-scoring team in the Big Ten.

Michigan was especially forceful on the vault in the final rotation of the afternoon, with sophomore Emyre Cole rating 14.850 alongside sophomore Anthony McCallum’s 14.750.

“It was great sticking my floor dismount,” Cole said. “I didn’t have a lot of events today, so I could really focus on the three (events), which helped my mental state.”

Cole shined all afternoon, scoring 13.250 on the pommel horse and 14.300 on the floor. After gliding into a mid-air body rotation, his body went to the floor. Cole’s handstand fell forward as he rolled upwards to finish the floor routine with an elegant flip. He left the mat and was greeted by excited teammates that cheered throughout his routine.

“It feels like the team is your anchor in that moment,” Cole said. “Them being that anchor is really amazing because you just want to run back there and get all that validation.”

Despite ripping his grip before his routine on the still rings, sophomore Matt Whitaker defied gravity with an in-air middle split that progressed into a balanced handstand. He dismounted with a flip and a perfect landing.

“I had to go behind the last guy and redo my set because of the grip problem,” Whittaker said. “To handle the adversity and come out strong was great.”

This is the first year where performance in dual meets determines who competes in the championship. The meet against Minnesota was one with enormous implications, as the Wolverines opened up with a big win.

“The next meet should be easy compared to this,” Golder said, because it is at home against Ohio State.”