Michigan has another national champion on its hands, and this time it’s men’s gymnastics freshman Drew DiGiore. Previously, DiGiore broke the vault record at the prelims and finals of the Big Ten Championships. Yesterday, the Buffalo, N.Y. native broke the record once again while sticking his best vault of the season, a two-and-a-half twisting vault, at the Individual Event Finals of the NCAA Championships in Philadelphia.
“It felt amazing,” DiGiore said. “I never really thought it would happen. But as the year went by, I started getting more and more confidence and having Big Tens under my belt definitely helped.”
With this confidence, the No. 5 Wolverines clinched a fourth-place finish for the third straight year on their three-day quest for the NCAA Championship title. Coming home with a trophy, the Wolverines recorded their season high two best team scores by more than 2.5 points; a 217.950 the first day and a 217.850 the second.
“This is what we were gearing for, a peak performance,” Michigan coach Kurt Golder said. “To have a season high is a big jump in our sport and to come back the next day and be within a tenth of that score is great.”
On Friday, the Wolverines competed in the National Qualifier, which consisted of two groups of six teams that needed to finish in the top three of their respective groups to move on to the final. Fifth-year senior and captain Scott Vetere led the Wolverines by placing in the top 10 in three events on the way to his runner-up all-around finish. On pommel horse, Vetere raked in the highest score of the night and a Michigan season best with a 9.500. He also had a top individual performance for the season with a 9.175 on the parallel bars.
“I was happy about my performance,” Vetere said. “I live just about 45 minutes outside of Philadelphia so I had a lot of family there. Hearing people cheer for me brought up my confidence and helped me perform well.”
Other standout performances of the night came from sophomore Geoff Corrigan and freshman Gerry Signorelli. The pair posted Michigan’s best score on the horizontal bar with a 9.300. This was good enough for a fifth-place tie and matched the season high for the team. Senior Brian Peterson also posted his highest score of the season on pommel horse with a 9.300. With these combined efforts, the Wolverines advanced to the finals in second place out of six teams.
On Saturday, Michigan was the only school that had three people in the top ten of the all-around event. Vetere placed third, and freshmen Justin Laury and Gerry Signorelli grabbed top ten finishes as well, making them the two highest placing freshmen.
“I felt pretty good,” Signorelli said. “With the amount of struggles we’ve had all season and all of the injuries, by bringing everything together we definitely hit our potential and I think all of the guys feel the same way.”
At the end of the night the Wolverines walked away with their fourth-place finish behind repeat champion Oklahoma, Ohio State, and Big Ten champion Penn State. After the night’s events, the Wolverines were able to send top-eight finishers Vetere (on the pommel horse), freshman Andrew DiGiore (on vault), and senior Conan Parzuchowski (on the still rings) to the Individual Event Finals on Sunday.
Even though only one national champion came out of the event finals, Vetere and Parzuchowski showed strong performances and finished in fifth-place on their events. It was an amazing weekend for the Wolverines and they were proud to finish on a strong note.
“This season was a lot better than last year,” Golder said. “Although we placed the same, we had a better and smoother championship. Now there’s just a release that the seasons over.”