By Alex Taylor, Daily Sports Writer
Published January 21, 2013
The winds of change were blowing at the Windy City Invitational as the No. 2 Michigan men’s gymnastics team defeated a loaded field that included No. 1 Illinois.
The Wolverines took home first place with a score of 431.30, while the Fighting Illini and No. 4 Ohio State finished in a tie for second with a score of 427.75. The win was Michigan’s first at the Windy City Invitational since 2009, when it also beat Illinois to take home the title.
“I was pleased,” said Michigan coach Kurt Golder. “What I liked about it the most was that we got off to a rough start, and we recovered from it and then finished the meet real strong.”
Leading the team were sophomore Adrian de los Angeles and senior Rohan Sebastian, who finished first and second in the all-around competition.
Named one of the Big Ten’s gymnasts to watch, de los Angeles didn’t waste any time proving the honor was deserved. On his way to capturing the all-around title with a score of 88.40, he finished second on floor and third in both parallel bars and high bars.
“He was a rock,” Golder said. “He can still clean up a little bit, but he’s right on track. If he can hit 6-for-6 stations now, he should be in pretty good shape come Winter Cup, and hopefully he can make the senior national team again like he did last year.”
The all-around win was the second time de los Angeles has won the event in a competition. As a result of his performance, he was named Big Ten gymnast of the week.
The biggest competitor for de los Angles in the all-around was his teammate, Sebastian. Sebastian, recently named a captain, finished with an overall score of 86.75, made possible by placing second on still rings and fifth on floor exercise.
“Rohan, second to Adrian, it’s great,” Golder said. “They both went 6-for-6, so as a coach, you can’t be more pleased doing that the first time out.”
The Wolverines also received a quality performance from junior Matt Freeman, who finished third on pommel horse and fifth on still rings.
One of the best finishes for Michigan was in the vault, in which four Wolverines placed in the top seven. Sophomore Stacey Ervin took home first place in the vault with a score of 15.40, sophomore Taylor Harrower came in fourth place, senior Syque Caesar finished in fifth place and sophomore Paul Rizkalla placed seventh.
The victory was even more impressive given the fact that the Wolverines won the competition this weekend without Sam Mikulak, arguably their best gymnast who was training with the U.S.' national team.
Michigan will be back in action this Saturday, when it takes on No. 5 Stanford in its first home competition of the season.