On Saturday night, the Michigan men’s gymnastics team concluded its regular season with a meet that was characteristic of a year cursed with misfortunes that were out of Michigan’s control. The effects of injuries and questionable judging that haunted the team all season were evident in its 221.20-214.35 loss at Ohio State.
“We did pretty well in spite of not winning,” Michigan coach Kurt Golder said.
The seventh-ranked Wolverines (2-2 Big Ten, 8-7 overall) earned their highest road score of the season, but No. 3 Ohio State (5-2, 10-3), the 2001 NCAA champion and defending Big Ten titleholder, took advantage of its position as host of this Big Ten matchup.
“The judging in (Columbus) seems strange at times,” Golder said.
He felt the scoring for the Wolverines on the rings was less consistent than it was for the Buckeyes.
“One judge would give us a high score and the other one would give a very low score on the same routine,” Golder said. “The discrepancy in opinions brought our average down on that event considerably.”
Despite certain setbacks, many Michigan gymnasts came out with solid individual performances. Senior Conan Parzuchowski has posted nationally-competitive numbers on the still rings throughout the season, and solidified his final regular season meet by winning the event with a score of 9.70. He has been an All-American on the event in the past, and it is likely that he will repeat and could possibly win the NCAA title according to Golder.
Freshman Justin Laury took second place in the all-around competition with a personal-best score of 54.20. He fell a mere .85 points behind Ohio State senior Raj Bhavsar, the reigning Big Ten and NCAA champion.
“I was happy with my floor routine and happy I stayed on all the equipment,” Laury said. “It feels great to step up. It’s just a great experience.”
Laury has scored consistently among top finishers in all-around competitions throughout the season, and has taken on an integral role in carrying an injury-plagued team that never attained its true competitive potential during the regular season.
“Looking back on the season, there is nothing we could have done to make ourselves better,” Laury said. “We had a lot of injuries, and we did everything we could.”
Freshman Luke Botkke is coming off his second shoulder surgery, while Laury is still recovering from surgery. Senior Scott Vetere grabbed third place in the all-around in Columbus, although it was only his first time competing on all six events since he was reinserted in the lineup after a second shoulder surgery.
“We never seem to get a break this season,” Golder said. “There’s always stuff hindering us. Right now, the guys have to remain optimistic. If they can keep their spirit up, we have a good shot in the Big Tens.”
It appears that their loss to Ohio State is only igniting the Wolverines’ drive to win, and is extending the life of the “spirit” Golder wants to see from his team.
“We had a couple of rough events today, and we have room for improvement,” Laury said. “We need to go into the gym for the last two weeks and get ready for the Big Tens. I feel confident for myself and my team. A lot of good things can happen if we all come together for the Big Tens and NCAAs.”