With hopes of making the United States national gymnastics team, four members of the Michigan men”s gymnastics team head to Las Vegas this weekend to compete in the Winter Cup Challenge.
Senior tri-captain Tim Dehr, juniors Daniel Diaz-Luong and Brad Kenna and sophomore Kris Zimmerman will battle 100 of the nation”s top male gymnasts for the three remaining spots on the U.S. national team.
Unfortunately, Michigan”s Scott Vetere and Kevin Roulston will not be able to compete as a result of injuries suffered recently. While Vetere will be taking the weekend off to nurse a pulled lateral muscle, Roulston will continue to undergo tests to diagnose his knee injury.
Speculation thus far has not been positive, with most believing that Roulston suffered a torn ACL.
In contrast to the team-oriented purpose of most meets, this weekend”s competition will provide a forum for the male gymnasts to showcase their individual skills in front of their peers.
“For me, competing in Vegas has always been an added bonus,” Dehr said. “I have always done gymnastics in a team environment. In Vegas I can go out and just worry about myself. My gymnastics has come so far over the last five years that I still have trouble believing that I am at the level where I am now competing against Olympians.
“It”s always a great experience to go out there and compete against the best of the best.”
Last year, senior tri-captain Justin Toman and Zimmerman, who were two of six Wolverines to take part in the Winter Cup Challenge, both advanced to the all-around finals. But unlike Toman, Zimmerman failed to qualify for a spot on the national team.
Though he is a member of the U.S. national team, Toman is still recovering from last season”s knee injury and will not compete. Zimmerman, on the other hand, expects to use his Winter Cup experience to his advantage in his attempt to qualify for the national team.
“I am looking forward to competing,” Zimmerman said. “It has been a goal of mine to make the national team for a long time now.
“Every opportunity I miss only reinforces that desire.”
For Daniel Diaz-Luong, the Las Vegas experience will be a new one. Diaz-Luong did not partake in last season”s meet due to an ankle injury, but is hyped for a shot at representing the U.S.
“Making the national team surely is a big dream for many including myself,” Diaz-Luong said. “The main goal, for me and my teammates, is to get out there and hit all our routines.”