“It’s gonna be close. We’re neck in neck right now,” Michigan coach Kurt Golder said, referring to the Michigan men’s gymnastics team’s meet tonight, when the Wolverines host Big Ten opponent Iowa.
The level of competition promises to be high quality and close scoring, considering that both teams are ranked back to back in the national standings. The fifth-ranked Wolverines (2-2 Big Ten, 5-4 overall) will try to take revenge on the sixth-ranked Hawkeyes (1-0 Big Ten, 6-2 overall), who claimed second place during the Windy City Invitational on Jan. 11, beating Michigan by a little more than one point.
“(The Hawkeyes) have good guys on floor and are extremely good on high bar,” Golder said. “We’re going to need to score early.”
Although Iowa is coming off its highest scoring performance of the season – a losing effort to No. 2 Oklahoma, the Wolverines do not feel any pressure. At this point, Michigan is probably closest to its maximum potential as it has been at any point since the start of the season.
The recent addition of freshman Gerry Signorelli has substantially upgraded the competitiveness and versatility of the lineup. In his first full meet back from injury, he took second place in the all-around competition in Minnesota behind two-time national champion, Clay Strother. Scott Vetere is back in the parallel bars rotation, as he gradually increases his confidence and strength so that he can compete on the rings again soon, which will add depth to Michigan’s scoring ability in that particular rotation.
As the lineup solidifies, the team spirit is becoming increasingly optimistic.
“(The gymnasts) are motivated by their mistakes in practices and intersquads,” Golder said. “They force themselves to continually do better, and that spills over in to their practices, which fuels their confidence for the meets.”
The collective momentum Michigan is generating has been long awaited. With a championship caliber team coming into fruition, it is possible that the Wolverines have surpassed the most challenging portion of their season, regardless of the tests the schedule ahead may yield.
“Right now, we are operating at 75 percent,” Golder said. “If we can get it up to 85, than I think we will be in pretty good shape.”