With all of the eyes in Cliff Keen arena focused on him, Justin
Laury did exactly what he did not want to do: fall. Laury flew a
fraction of an inch too far on his release, and his hands slipped
off the high bar.

But Laury refused to let this slipup bury him.

He took his time, got back on the bar, nailed the rest of his
routine and stuck the dismount. His score of 9.2 was good enough
for third place on the high bar, but more importantly, it gave No.
7 Michigan the win over No. 6 Ohio State. The Wolverines squeaked
out the victory by less than three-tenths of a point, 219.725 to
219.450.

“I was very, very pissed at myself,” Laury said.
“But you have to get back up there, and you can be a
champion, or you can be a little punk.

“(After the fall) I was just thinking that I had to be
perfect. It was a great team effort, and I know the team wanted me
to finish strong. I knew that every tenth counted. I have been in
meets where we lost by two-tenths. So it was all for the
team.”

Going into the last rotation, the high bar, Michigan was down by
more than a point and a half — typically an insurmountable
deficit. But thanks to a record setting high bar score (37.4) and
some mistakes by Ohio State on parallel bars, the Wolverines were
able to make up the deficit.

“Even when we were down, the guys kept their spirit
up,” Michigan coach Kurt Golder said. “Being down by a
point and a half is tough, but I knew that if we were in striking
distance, our high bar is pretty good. So I knew we could pull it
out if we could put a little bit of pressure on them. Sure enough,
they cracked on parallel bars, and we had almost the meet of our
life.”

One of the most important performances of the night came from
sophomore David Flannery, who had not competed for the Wolverines
since the first meet of the season. His score of 8.95 to start off
the team’s high bar rotation was thrown out, but his nearly
perfect routine and dismount brought the crowd and the team to
their feet.

“That was huge, because he’s worked his ass off all
year, and he’s only been able to compete one time,”
Golder said. “For him, I wanted that hit, and it was great.
He stuck his dismount, and he rocked his routine.

“He actually wasn’t in the lineup until Thursday.
Mainly we got him in the meet because he was looking good, so the
timing was right. And he hadn’t been in a (home) meet. So
this was a great opportunity to get him in.”

Flannery was less impressed with his own performance. He said
that he wasn’t worried going into high bar, and he was
confident in his team’s ability.

“There’re always nerves, but you always have to know
that you can do it,” Flannery said. “It was my first
meet competing in a while, and it felt good. It felt good to go in
there and hit the set and have the team pull it out in the end. I
knew my team was behind me, and I knew that all of us were just
going to knock it out. We just went up there, and the whole team
did what we had to do.”

Michigan’s gymnasts said that this upset victory sets the
team up well for the Big Ten Championship next weekend in Chicago.
Most admitted that they have room for improvement, but they said
that they were confident going into the most important portion of
the season.

“We’re ready,” junior Eddie Umphrey said.
“We have a lot of talent. We struggled a little bit early in
the season, but we know we have it in us. Tonight, we came out and
finally put it together.”

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