Staring down his target, senior Nick Guy readied for his last ever run on the floor at Cliff Keen. All eyes fell onto him as he began his charge into the final pass, yet to stick it this year. Guy leapt into the air as the crowd fell into a hush. Both feet came down and landed on the mat, no movement or lean. The crowd erupted, celebrating the best performance of the day on the floor.
The No. 2 Wolverines’ men’s gymnastic team (6-0 overall, 5-0 Big Ten) continued its winning streak over Minnesota (1-4, 1-4), with a final score of 412.800-384.400.
“If it’s going to be my last night in Cliff Keen Arena I definitely want to finish at the highest point I can,” Guy said.
Sunday’s meet against the Gophers highlighted Michigan’s seniors, who have been a dominant force so far this season. Along with senior captains Cameron Bock and Jacob Moore, Guy and the rest of the seniors were honored at the end of the night with plaques and gifts, surrounded by their family.
“Our captains are a really strong influence on everyone and how the team performs,” sophomore Markus Shears said.
However, on Sunday, this praise did not come unwarranted. The Wolverines’ seniors took home the top score in every event besides the high bar and vault, which were both won by sophomore Paul Juda.
“They are the glue,” Michigan coach Kurt Golder said. “I have been with them for four or five years. They are just a fantastic group and I am going to miss the heck out of them. I wish they were staying another year or even a few more years beyond that.”
It became clear that this senior leadership was what motivated the Wolverines from the get-go, with Michigan taking a double-digit lead after the first events concluded. This was accomplished on the floor with a solid performance by Moore, who took home a 14.150, trailing only Guy with a score of 14.250. On pommel horse, the Wolverines continued their hot streak by taking the meet’s top four scores. Michigan’s time on pommel horse was highlighted with a career-high of 14.050 from Shears, who trailed only Bock with a 14.200.
As the meet advanced into the second round, it became evident that Minnesota would not be able to keep up with the Wolverines. Tough falls and an injury to Andrew Hyde did not help the Gophers’ efforts in mounting a comeback. Michigan did not let up and took the top five highest scores on still rings. Minnesota’s Ben Eyles made an effort to stop the Wolverine dominance, earning the Gopher’s best score of the day on vault, but Eyles only scored third overall behind Guy (14.600) and Juda (14.700).
With only two events remaining, the Wolverines boasted a 20-point lead over the Gophers. Bock appeared last on parallel bars for Michigan, earning the highest score of the meet (14.550). On the high bar, Juda capped off a dominant night for the Wolverines with the top score of 14.550.
With a 6-0 start, the Wolverines have high hopes for the remainder of the season, having started to realize the true potential of this team.
“Going into the postseason, the teams to beat are Stanford and Oklahoma, but I would say we are right with them,” senior James Read said. “I would say they should be scared.”
Added Guy: “We are getting into the process of getting consistent and knowing that every routine we put up and every guy that we have in our lineup is trustworthy and can score well for us.”
An almost perfect meet left Golder proud of his team and his seniors, but Michigan recognizes that there remains a way to go.
“We do not want to peak just yet, but we are close,” Golder said.
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