After two tough losses over the past two weeks, the No. 4 Michigan men’s gymnastics team got a much-needed win against No. 3 Illinois in Champaign on Saturday, 359.65 to 358.65.
“I think we did great,” junior Chris Cameron said. “We went out there, we knew what we had to do, and we proved to everybody that we are true champions.”
The Wolverines avenged a ten-point loss from last year at home against Illinois.
The victory, especially after two tough losses to No. 1 Stanford and No. 2 Oklahoma. It was a much-needed confidence boost for Michigan at this point in the season.
“Last year, Illinois came up to Michigan and beat us,” Michigan coach Kurt Golder said. “And I just think there was a little extra incentive there.”
Leading the way for the Wolverines were juniors Cameron, Thomas Kelley and Ian Makowske. Finally healthy again, Cameron won the still rings, placed second in the pommel horse and parallel bars and tied for fourth in the floor exercise.
“I scored pretty well on rings, but probably the best moment for me was P Bars,” Cameron said. “I knew I had to hit and I went out there and it felt incredible.”
Kelley finished second on the high bar, receiving a season-high score of 15.45 and Makowske placed third in the floor exercise and the high bar.
Going into the final rotation, Michigan was up by a mere tenth of a point. Taking second, third and fourth on the high bar, the Wolverines built a nice cushion and ensured the one-point victory.
In recent meets, Michigan has struggled in one or two events, but on Saturday the Wolverines appeared much more well-rounded.
“We still made some mistakes, but for the most part we had four good counting scores,” Golder said. “Even though we made some mistakes, I think we only had to count a mistake one time. That’s the big difference. Before, we were making three or four mistakes on the same event.”
With only one dual meet left before the postseason, the team sees this weekend’s performance as a key building block.
“I think (the momentum) will help us,” Golder said. “We wanted to prove ourselves that we can go on the road and have a good meet, and we did have a pretty darn good meet. It’s just another thing that they have that they can draw on and it should give them confidence.”
Next Saturday, Michigan will take on Ohio State at 7 p.m. at Cliff Keen Arena. For senior night, the Wolverines will be looking to end the season with a bang.
“We’re excited for them to have a last hurrah for their home Michigan experience and we’re really looking forward to staying at home and having a good meet,” Kelley said. “We’ll be moving out to Ohio State in a couple of weeks for Big Tens so we’re really excited to get on the way and finish up strong.”