Even without notable performances by key members of the No.1 Michigan men’s gymnastics team, the Wolverines were still able to come out with a victory over No.11 University of Illinois at Chicago at Cliff Keen Arena on Saturday.
The Wolverines were led by senior Mel Anton Santander, junior Ian Makowske, and freshman Rohan Sebastian, winning the meet by a mere 10.4 points.
Makowske, who won the high bar event to conclude the meet, surpassed his previous best score of 14.35 with a superb 14.95.
“I think my high bar finally is coming together,” Makowske said. “In the beginning of the season I feel like I always had a mistake or two. It was nice to hit a set, actually three sets. I feel like I’m gaining confidence.”
After his impressive performance at the Winter Cup Invitational, where he earned a spot on the U.S. National Team, junior Chris Cameron did not compete Saturday. Michigan coach Kurt Golder said he had already decided to rest Cameron after the tough two-day Invitational when he injured his hand earlier in the week.
And without Cameron and Thomas Kelley competing, Sebastian claimed his first all-around victory of his career on Saturday, capturing a total score of 83.4 points. Kelley also participated in the Winter Cup Invitational.
“Seeing the older guys like Chris Cameron and Thomas Kelley and Mel Santander do the all-around, and then getting my chance to do it at a smaller meet was definitely a great experience,” Sebastian said. “That’s what it’s all about.”
Even though UIC came in as the No. 11 team in the nation, Michigan was still able to rest some key contributors in the win, showing the Wolverines’ deep pool of talent.
“We put a lot of guys who don’t have a lot of experience in,” Golder said. “We had several of our top guys in the Winter Cup last week so we wanted to rest them and get some of the younger guys some experience. I think we had a pretty decent hit percentage which kept our spirits up real well.”
In the next month, the Wolverines will surely have to keep their spirits and their confidence up. They will face No. 3 Oklahoma next Saturday, No. 4 Stanford a week later and conclude the arduous stretch against No. 2 Illinois. This gamut will either solidify Michigan’s top ranking or bring question to it.
“We have a bunch of big meets coming up,” Makowske said. “We have to keep doing what we’re doing, working hard in the gym. It was great to see some other people get out on the floor tonight and show what they’re capable of. Overall, I’m really happy with how the team looks. I would say we just got to keep doing what we’re doing and improve our hit percentage.”