Floor exercise and pommel horse proved to be the Achilles heel for the No. 7 Michigan men’s gymnastics team as it placed third at this weekend’s Windy City Invitational in Chicago.
No. 2 Illinois won the event with a score of 221.800, while No. 4 Ohio State came in second, beating the Wolverines by 1.875 points — 220.130 to 218.225.
Senior captain Geoff Corrigan led the Wolverines, taking first place in the all-around competition and setting a new school all-around record with a score of 55.400. Corrigan placed in the top five in horizontal bar, parallel bars, vault and still rings.
“Any time you can break a school record it’s a milestone because there have been many great athletes that have gone before you,” Coach Kurt Golder said of Corrigan. “We have a pretty strong tradition. Also, going into this competition, we aren’t in our best performance shape and not near our peak, and it’s great to start off the season that way.”
But Corrigan would have much preferred a team victory in Chicago than the individual accomplishment.
“It’s nice, but it doesn’t mean anything unless you win the meet,” Corrigan said. “It’s nice to get a record, but I would much rather win as a team.”
Despite being considered the best floor exercise team in the country coming in first place both days at last year’s NCAA Tournament, Michigan struggled in the event. Just one gymnast — senior Eddie Umphrey — ranked in the top 10 with a score of 9.35. The team attributed these shortcomings to early-season jitters and is confident that it will be back on track in no time.
“We just need more time and a few more routines under our belt in practice,” Golder said. “We have already established ourselves as a good floor team, and I think our timing was just off a little bit. But I’m pretty confident we will get those scores up quickly.”
Pommel horse also proved to be a thorn in the team’s side on Saturday, with just one gymnast scoring above 9.0 points and ranking in the top 10. Junior Andrew DiGiore placed sixth with a score of 9.15, but the team’s best gymnast in this event, junior Justin Laury, ran into some problems and finished with a score of 8.35. To add to the pommel horse problems, sophomore Aaron Rakes scored a team-low 7.70, while Corrigan slid in with an 8.55.
“We’re not the No. 1 pommel horse team in the county, but I think we can be a good team,” Golder said. “We did have a nice performance from DiGiore. I thought Laury, our anchor guy, would come through for us and possibly he could win the event. He had some trouble, but he is a very steady performer.”
Michigan finished off with a final score just .925 points ahead of No. 8 Iowa, which came in fourth. Michigan will face off against the Hawkeyes this Saturday at Cliff Keen Arena.
“I think next week we are going to focus on really trying to get better on floor and horse,” Umphrey said. “We are the best floor team in the country. We really didn’t show that, but I think we are going to be better next week, and we can take it to Iowa.”
Host school No. 11 Illinois-Chicago finished sixth place out of six, rounding out the field with 205.325 points, and No. 9 Minnesota came in fifth, beating Illinois-Chicago by 7.425 points.