When the third and fourth-best men”s gymnastics teams meet up everyone expects a close, tough match. That wasn”t the case when No. 3 Penn State visited No. 4 Michigan Saturday. The Nittany Lions performed poorly, but well enough to beat the Wolverines.
“Fortunately it”s the middle of the season, and we can re-group. There”s a lot that can be learned from this,” Michigan coach Kurt Golder said. “We can get motivation and drive from it, and in the long run, diversity can make you a lot stronger.”
The Lions, who won 212.25- 209.7, held the lead for almost the entire match. The only time the Wolverines led was halfway through the first rotation.
“It was nice to come out with a win,” Penn State coach Randy Jepson said. “A win is a win, but it certainly wasn”t pretty.”
Michigan has suffered injuries all year, and this week wasn”t any exception.
“We had a lot of adversity in the latter half of the week. On Wednesday, Daniel (Diaz-Luong) hurt his finger and wasn”t able to go at all,” Golder said. “Brad (Kenna) comes in on Friday and he can”t lift his arm above his shoulder. So we had to scratch him on three events, he was nowhere near 100 percent, as you could see on his routines. Justin (Toman) rolls his ankle in warm-ups, so we had to pull him on vault.”
“The most important thing is (that we) get healthy,” junior Kris Zimmerman said. “A lot of our guys aren”t competing or (are) doing water-downed routines.”
The officials were struggling just like the Wolverines. Both coaches weren”t happy with some of the starting values of the gymnasts, among other things.
“They made a mistake on the value of Jamie Hertz”s routine, and it hurt our team score,” Golder said. “They did the same thing on parallel bars.”
Zimmerman turned in a strong performance for the Wolverines, winning the pommelhorse and parallel bars titles along with a second place on still rings. Conan Parzuchowski edged out Zimmerman in the still rings competition with a 9.4 and placed third on the vault.
Chris Gatti was third in the all-around as well, and Edward Umphrey won the vault.
Kevin Donohue for Penn State was first in the all-around with excellent scores throughout, as he led the charge for the Nittany Lions.
“I was thrilled with Kevin Donohue, he”s gotten better and better every week,” said Jepson. “That was his personal high in the all around. He really set the pace for our team. We needed someone to step up and he did.”
The Wolverines continue to struggle on the pommel horse and will look to concentrate on that event this week, as they work to turn the season around.
“The ball isn”t bouncing our way right now, (that) doesn”t mean it won”t later.” Golder said. “The most adversity that I”ve ever overcome or experienced was the year that we won (the national title).”
This weekend, Michigan will have to shape up in a hurry as they visit No. 1 Oklahoma.