Approaching his dismount off the pommel horse, senior Cameron Bock could hear the screams of encouragement from his teammates at the edge of the mat. He pushed himself up into a handstand on the horse, using the motivation from the sidelines, and ended the routine with a solid landing — earning a score of 14.550, a new career high.
Although the voices of his teammates helped motivate his routines during the Michigan men’s gymnastics win over No. 7 Iowa, Bock has also had to discipline himself to perform the same routines in almost complete silence. In the Winter Cup Challenge on Feb. 26-28, the atmosphere was completely different than that of a normal Michigan dual meet.
“Whenever someone goes up and does their routine (at a Michigan meet), everyone is yelling for them, you got the team support, it’s pretty loud,” Bock said. “In USA competitions, it’s almost dead silent. The music is low, you have maybe one or two other guys on your team there or your coach rooting you on, but it’s really just a different vibe.”
Both Bock and sophomore Paul Juda competed in the Winter Cup Challenge and were named part of the U.S. national team, with Bock placing first in the meet and Juda placing sixth. Bock competed in both days of the Winter Cup, as well as at a meet on Feb. 21 against No. 3 Nebraska and No. 7 Illinois, for a total of three draining meets in a span of a week. With the meet this week against Iowa following the intense stretch, Bock did not compete on all events to allow for a break.
“Our two main all around guys are Cameron Bock and Paul Juda, and they just finished a stretch of competition that was really grueling, really brutal,” Michigan coach Kurt Golder said. “Even if it weren’t — which it is — physically fatiguing, it’s mentally fatiguing because all of those meets were big pressure cookers.”
The strain of the last few meets did not seem to have much of an effect on Bock’s routines for the Wolverines on Saturday. Following his performance on the pommel horse, he tallied a 14.400 on the still rings, sticking the landing on the dismount and getting a huge reaction from the team once again. Bock’s lowest-scoring event of the day was vault, where he scored a 14.150, but he finished his day off with a solid parallel performance, landing a solid double back pike dismount to post a score of 14.400.
Bock competed last in the lineup on each event during the meet in order to stay consistent and help the team finish with a strong performance.
“From a more logistical standpoint, I go last simply because I do all the events, so it gives me a little more time to rest,” Bock said. “But in terms of the mentality, I’ve been put in that position many times, where if we have a couple falls or some adversity in the routines prior, I’ll just keep my head down, do my routine and try to get a good score for the team to bring it back.”
In the meet against the Hawkeyes, Bock captured event titles on the pommel horse, still rings and parallel bars. Bock, alongside Juda, is not only training towards the Big Ten and NCAA Championships like the rest of the Michigan team: he’s also training for the USA Championships and the Olympic Trials in June. It means they often have different practice schedules from their teammates, but they’re still key leaders for the Wolverines.
“(Juda and Bock) are both in the same (practice) group … and the group coach there, I just let him do it however he wants to do it with those two guys,” Golder said. “During the week, we’ll have scheduled intersquad meets on various events, and we don’t require those guys to be a part of it. So they can just do their own training plan for what they need to do.”
Ultimately, although it was a grueling few weeks, Bock didn’t miss a beat against Iowa, and the Wolverines notched solid performances with Bock at the forefront.
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