The Michigan men’s gymnastics team was defeated by No. 2 Stanford, last year’s national champion, 361.4-352.150 on Saturday night, having traveled 2200 miles across the country to Palo Alto, Calif.
After the loss, Wolverine coach Kurt Golder was hesitant to blame any other factors — that the Cardinal had home advantage and it was their senior night — for the team’s defeat at the hand of another top team.
“The recipe for success is not traveling 2200 miles the day before,” Golder said. “They’re at home, that’s a little advantage, we traveled, that’s a little disadvantage. But I’m not going to use that as an excuse. You just have to deal with it. You got to be above it.”
Leading the way for Michigan were seniors David Chan and Kent Caldwell, and junior Chris Cameron. All three had two top-five finishes in their events, highlighted by a solid performance by Chan in the pommel horse, finishing second with a career-best score of 15.2.
Still nursing a hand injury, Cameron was finally able to compete in the floor exercise, where he finished tied for fifth.
“I was happy to be out there competing on the floor again,” Cameron said. “It’s something I’m really confident with and pretty much always goes down right. It’s always nice to help the team out where I know I can but I just want to do that on my normal four events instead of just two.”
Though Cameron is getting healthier, he is still unable to compete in the all-around competition. While he noticed the pain while competing, he said it didn’t really bother him.
“It definitely didn’t feel great,” Cameron said. “It hurt a little bit but with all the adrenaline, it’s nice to use that to sort of ignore the pain. What it really comes down to, is I have to be able to do it every day in practice so I can be training and getting better and not just maintaining what I have.”
Prior to Saturday the Wolverines had been unable to put it all together for a successful performance. The high bar, usually a strong event for Michigan, was a weak point when three different athletes fell during their routines. The pommel horse has also been weak for the Wolverines in the past couple weeks.
“I think we’ve been able to put most of it together except the horse has been an event we’ve struggled with for two weeks in a row,” Caldwell said. “We’re still waiting to figure that one out and we’re going to work really hard on getting better.”
A week earlier, Michigan made a late-meet run in the last rotation against Oklahoma, just coming up short. Going into the final rotation on Saturday, it trailed by eight points. And instead of giving up, the Wolverines fought back and concluded the meet with an impressive performance on the parallel bars by senior Mel Santander and David Chan.
“At the end of the meet we focused on what we needed to focus on, so we finished really strong on p bars,” Caldwell said. “We kept our energy up the whole meet even though by the last rotation we knew it was probably out of our reach. It was good to see everyone keep the energy up and finish really strong and I think going off of that, we’ll be really motivated.”
Motivation will be crucial in the upcoming weeks, considering Michigan’s grueling stretch is not yet over. It will face No. 3 Illinois on March 13, and then conclude its dual-meet schedule against Ohio State a week after.
“We just need to keep focusing on our gymnastics and looking at how we’re building and progressing from week to week,” Caldwell said. “Trying to improve from each meet is important. It’s all about building up to the post season.”