The No. 3 Michigan men’s gymnastics team held its annual Maize and Blue Intrasquad meet on Dec. 12 at the Newt Loken Training Center, with the Maize team defeating Blue 324.65-319.85. The meet serves as the team’s testing ground before the competitive season begins, as well as the first time the freshman officially suit up for the season.

Senior Cameron Bock led the Maize team and won five events, notching the best all-around performance with a score of 85.60. Sophomore Paul Juda led the Blue team and won the high bar with a score of 14.30. 

Six freshmen also had the opportunity to make their debuts for the team.

“(Evgeny Siminuic and Steven Lukasik) had a pretty good high bar set,” Juda said. “Our team’s pretty upperclassmen-heavy this year, and that’s OK. I think the freshmen have a lot of room to grow, and I think they have good examples to learn from.”

The meet was also coming off Thanksgiving break, so most of the team had to adjust with COVID-19 testing and only a short time to use the practice facilities. While there were mistakes from both teams, Bock and Juda didn’t expect perfection and felt that the meet was productive for the team to build chemistry and endurance.

The team also built the confidence to perform at a high level regardless of whether a quarantine or positive COVID-19 test occurred and feel prepared for anything that comes in their way.

The break provided physical and mental rest for the team, and now they prepare for their season opener against the University of Illinois-Chicago on Jan. 17. As the team re-enters campus and dials into the mindset they built during last year, they’re taking important steps to effectively utilize practice and ensure that their performance is at its peak for every meet.

The Maize and Blue meet also served as training for the virtual environment that the team will face. Rather than having a team travel across the country to compete, each team will perform while being judged online. As a result, the home advantage becomes void, especially since fans won’t be present.

“Just getting used to that is going to be different than the environment you would have in a regular competition,” Bock said. “Officially putting on a uniform and getting in routines also helped for preparation.”

Bock and Juda are optimistic about the team performing in this environment, especially after what they saw at Maize and Blue.

“If the whole team treats it like a real meet, then I think that’s what is going to help us prepare the most,” Juda said. “I think Maize and Blue, a lot of the guys took it really seriously, and (Bock) and I can say that we really appreciated that.”

As optimistic as they feel, the real test won’t come until the Wolverines take the mat on Sunday.