As the men’s gymnastics meet began in Oklahoma’s packed McCasland Field House, the public address announcer couldn’t hide the joy in his voice.

“Men’s gymnastics just doesn’t get any better than this,” he breathlessly told the crowd of 1,485.

But for the two highly ranked teams, No. 2 Michigan and No. 5 Oklahoma, it didn’t exactly turn out that way.

Though the meet was billed as a battle of powerhouse squads, neither team performed at its best.

And while the Wolverines left the Field House knowing victory was within reach, the Sooners came away with the win. Oklahoma clinched the victory in the final two events, high bar and parallel bars, to win 351.4-347.0.

“We had this meet in our hands,” junior Joe Catrambone said, icing a bad ankle made sore again by a botched parallel-bars dismount. “There’s some little stuff here and there that we can fix, but overall we are a better team than them. I think that they know that too.”

Catrambone had another solid meet, winning the high bar title, but his smooth, meet-ending parallel bars routine ended with a painful fall.

Last weekend, Michigan took control of the final two events, coming from behind to beat defending National Champion Penn State in Ann Arbor. But away from Cliff Keen, it was a different team.

“We didn’t do that on the road,” Michigan coach Kurt Golder said. “When the going got tough and we really had to buckle down, we really weren’t the same team that we were last weekend.”

After falling behind on pommel horse, the Wolverines surged back during the floor rotation. Led by senior Dan Rais and freshmen Chris Cameron and Thomas Kelley, Michigan jumped out to a two-point lead.

On vault, though, the Wolverines got themselves into trouble, with two gymnasts falling on their landings.

But then sophomore David Chan, who earned All-America status on vault last season, stuck his explosive handspring double front to finish, and win, the event.

His teammates engulfed him, with Cameron lifting Chan off the floor in a delighted hug.

“That electrified us,” said Cameron, who won the pommel horse title. “We really messed up vault bad . but Dave did what he had to. He put that thing down perfect.”

Despite Chan’s performance, Michigan couldn’t translate the momentum into consistency on rings. And the Sooners caught fire when they moved to vault.

Oklahoma surged into the lead, then pulled away as the Wolverines struggled through their high bar sets and the Sooners breezed through parallel bars. Catrambone and Kelley managed Michigan’s only excellent routines on high bar, finishing first and second in the event.

With Michigan behind by more than four points going into its final rotation, parallel bars, it needed a miracle. Despite the efforts of junior Ryan McCarthy, who hit his routine in his first meet of the year, and sophomore Mel Santander, who finished second in the event, the Wolverines were unable to catch the Sooners.

To the delight of the many excited grade-schoolers in attendance, Oklahoma continued its home-arena dominance.

Yet the Wolverines weren’t convinced they lost to a completely superior team. As gymnasts so often say, it all comes down to which team can hit more routines on a given night.

On Saturday, that team was Oklahoma.

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