The distance between Ann Arbor and Norman, Okla. is equal to the distance between the Sooners and Wolverines men”s gymnastics teams. No. 5 Michigan was able to beat No. 11 Nebraska in Norman on Saturday, but No. 1 Oklahoma set the pace, scoring 218.125. The Wolverines scored 208.45, and the Cornhuskers with 206.75.
“It was good to (beat) Nebraska,” said coach Kurt Golder. “(Oklahoma) pretty much kicked out butts. They had a great meet.”
Michigan went into last year”s match against then-No. 1 Oklahoma and beat the Sooners in the final rotation. The year before, the Wolverines also beat Oklahoma in the final rotation, and from that a rivalry has developed that makes both teams look forward to the match.
“It looked like it was impossible for us to win those last two years,” Golder said. “In both years we pulled it off in the last event and now they really look forward to playing us.”
The last time the Wolverines faced the Cornhuskers was two years ago in the National Championship Qualifier, when Michigan placed first and Nebraska was fifth out of six teams.
Jamie Hertza claimed the high score on the pommel horse with a 9.35 and gave a solid performance on the floor exercise. Conan Parzuchowski finished second on the still rings with a 9.45 and competed in four other events. Meanwhile, Edward Umphrey finished third in the all-around with strong performances throughout, but Golder singled out another Wolverine for praise.
“My pick for performer of the match would go to Justin Toman for his vault,” Golder said. “He scored a 9.35 out of a possible 9.4. It was exceptional.”
Michigan was able to improve on the pommel horse, which has given it problems all year. It also was able to get a few gymnasts back from injuries.
“There”s only one place for us to go, and that”s up,” Golder said. “We have the potential and talent.”
The Wolverines will need to improve as individuals to get out of the mid-season slump that they are in. Michigan has a 5-4 record and is 1-2 in its last three matches.
“We need to do a better job coaching, but also (the coaches) can”t do the routines for them,” Golder said. “It comes down to (individual) responsibility and accountability. When they raise their hand, they have to hit the routine. There isn”t much their teammates can do on the sideline or we can do as coaches.”