Even posting its highest score of the season wasn’t enough for the No. 6 Michigan men’s gymnastics team.
Taking on No. 2 Oklahoma on Saturday at Cliff Keen Arena, the Wolverines fell 357.75-355.4 — even though they bested their previous season-high score of 353.4, set a week earlier when they defeated Arizona State.
“When you’re competing against some of the best guys in the country, they’re going to be putting up big sets,” senior Ian Makowske said. “There’s nothing we can do about that. We just need to focus on what we do.”
Every time Michigan executed an excellent routine, the Sooners had an answer.
“(The Sooners) are an extremely talented team,” senior Thomas Kelley said. “We’ve also learned that we’re a top-notch team too. We can hang with them but we just have to hit. We had to count a fall on horse and floor, so we don’t have the luxury to do that.”
On the parallel bars, redshirt junior Syque Caesar posted a career-best score of 15.65 — the highest score of any gymnast on the parallel bars in the NCAA this season.
Other notable performances came from Kelley and Makowske, who took first and second on the high bar. Redshirt juniors Adam Hamers and Andrew Vance placed second on the pommel horse and rings, respectively.
Though it earned a season-best score, Michigan coach Kurt Golder thought his team could have been better.
“Some routines (on Saturday) were missed that I didn’t think we’d have a problem with,” Golder said. “The good news with that is there’s a lot of room for improvement.”
Early on in the season, the Wolverines suffered several significant injuries. But on Saturday, they were at near full-strength. Beside senior Chris Cameron, who still is not at 100 percent, the entire team was back in action.
Senior Ben Baldus-Strauss is one of the gymnasts who recently returned to the lineup, as he missed a large portion of the season because of a broken arm. On Saturday, his score counted toward the team total on the floor and the vault.
“It can be difficult when one guy gets hurt and another is hurt,” Golder said. “It kind of takes the wind out of your sail. When you’re getting guys healthy that you haven’t had, then it can really give you a lot of momentum and put wind in your sail.”
The Wolverines finish their dual-meet season next weekend at Cliff Keen against No. 9 Ohio State. It will be the last home meet and senior night for Michigan gymnasts.