After coming in second in the Windy City Invitational last year, the Michigan men’s gymnastics team came into this year’s edition with a mission and a swagger unbounded.
“We are the best team in the Big Ten,” Michigan coach Kurt Golder said.
His confidence showed on the scoreboard — with a team score of 400.00 to close out the meet, the Wolverines took home first place against a field that included Big Ten opponents in Iowa, Minnesota and Illinois.
Starting off strong is important in any sport, but especially in gymnastics where the smallest movements can make or break a meet. Junior Cameron Bock was ready to take his moment and run with it.
Beginning on vault, Bock scored a career high 14.75 and Junior Nick Guy added a 14.45, coming third overall, to give the Wolverines the lead after their first event with a team score of 70.70.
On the parallel bars, Bock lead the charge again with a team-high 14.10, good for second overall in the event. Senior Mitchell Brown was the next highest scorer for the Wolverines with 13.60. Despite the high individual scores, Illinois captured the lead after a strong performance on vault for its second rotation.
Facing the lead change, Golder made sure to alert his squad to keep their guards up. Like a well-oiled machine, the Wolverines followed his advice all night.
On their third rotation, high bar, junior Jonathan Liu flipped his way to a career high 13.75 and won the event overall while freshman Paul Juda contributed a strong 13.60. With those performances, Michigan regained the lead, carrying a team total 204.15.
With Minnesota and Illinois not too far behind, the Wolverines didn’t waver. Through the fourth rotation, on floor, Bock again gave a stellar performance capturing second overall and scoring a team high 13.80.
On the fifth rotation — now with over a two point lead for the Wolverines overall — Bock dominated the event with a 14.00. The next closest opposing score on the pommel horse was a 13.75.
“(Bock) just sets a good standard,” Golder said. “(He) does it daily (and) hasn’t had a bad practice this year.”
As Michigan held a 1.60 point lead heading into the last rotation, Juda put in a 13.30 performance with senior Thomas Paul and Bock each adding 13.20. After obtaining a 65.60 on rings, the Wolverines secured the victory with a team score of 400.00, holding off Minnesota’s 398.75.
Along with the team win, Brock achieved second in the all-around and Michigan won four out of six individual events while seven Wolverines made their collegiate debuts.
Even with the strong start to the season, Golder still saw room for improvement.
“Hit routine percentage is our focus,” Golder said. “ (We) can only control the controllables. Hopefully we can get our (injured) guys back in (and) strengthen our lineup (because) we’re not that deep.”