The No. 4 Michigan men’s gymnastics team set a school record and NCAA season best with 364.450 points on Saturday as it cruised past rival No. 5 Ohio State on Senior Night.
Leading the way for the Wolverines was senior Mel Santander and juniors Chris Cameron and Thomas Kelley. Santander, in particular, was a bright spot, as he set another school record with the highest all-around score ever.
“It’s my last meet here and I wanted to do the best that I could,” Santander said. “I’m very satisfied that I did that.”
Not only did Santander break the school record in the all-around, he also received career-best scores on the pommel horse, still rings, parallel bars and high bar. His score of 90.650 is the second-highest overall score of any collegiate gymnast this season, only .25 points behind the highest one.
Cameron placed first in the floor exercise, tied for second on the still rings and finished second on the parallel bars. Kelley was the high bar champion and also finished second in the all-around, behind Santander.
Throughout the season, Michigan has had troubles putting together a complete performance. There have always been one or two mistake-ridden rotations, but on Saturday, that was not the case.
“Nobody was afraid of anything and nobody was afraid of missing,” Cameron said. “Every single gymnast went up and did the best they could do. No hand placement was off and no set was off. Everything was just on.”
Michigan’s total score of 364.450 is the highest score of any collegiate team this season and is 2.80 points higher than No. 1 Stanford, which held the previous highest score in the NCAA.
Last season on Senior Night, the Wolverines were defeated by Illinois by one point.
“I think (Senior Night) had a real positive effect this year,” Michigan coach Kurt Golder said. “Of course, last year we lost Senior Night and maybe they remembered losing last year and probably got a little extra motivation from that as well.”
Senior Torrance Laury ended his career at Cliff Keen arena with a bang, on his performance during the fifth rotation on the parallel bars. A senior leader, but never a major contributor to the team’s score in his career, he had a solid routine and perfectly stuck his landing. His score of 14.50 was a career best, and a great way to finish.
“I think the whole team was very excited for Torrance Laury,” Golder said. “He always has trouble with the dismount for his P Bar routine, and he stuck it cold. I think the guys were extremely happy for him.”
In two weeks, Michigan will travel to Columbus to compete in the Big Ten Championships. They will then travel to West Point, N.Y. on April 15, to conclude their season at NCAAs. Though the Wolverines will be coming off their highest score ever, they still think much can be improved before the postseason kicks off.
“We can get better,” Cameron said. “It’s not like we stuck everything, and it’s not like we didn’t have falls. I mean, geez, we just want to get better, and reach our potential which is still above what we did today. The thing I love is now we have three contenders for all-around titles at both Big Ten’s and NCAA’s. It’s going to be a fun next month, that’s for sure.”