The Michigan men’s gymnastics team posted a season-high score of 348.950, but it wasn’t enough to beat the defending national champion, No. 1 Oklahoma.
Sophomore Sam Mikulak gave one of his best performances, beating the top-all arounder in the country, fellow United States National Team member Jake Dalton, 90.30-90.00 in the all-around competition. But even Mikulak’s performance wasn’t enough.
Coming off a frustrating loss at Stanford last weekend, the Wolverines (6-6) trained hard last week before facing their biggest competition of the season so far.
“The second half of our meet ended pretty poorly at Stanford,” said junior Rohan Sebastian. “So we were all very disappointed at that one. Coming in (and) taking on the No. 1 team, we were very focused on continuing the whole meet … we had the whole meet to keep the intensity high and to give the No. 1 team a run for the ranking.”
Michigan began with a good performance on the pommel horse, scoring a 56.25 to Oklahoma’s 56.75, with Mikulak heading the team and winning the event.
The Wolverines had their best performance on the floor in their second routine, when three managed to tally over 15 and pass the 60-point mark as a team with a 60.60. Freshman Adrian de los Angeles placed second with a career-high 15.35, followed by Mikulak in third place (15.20) and sophomore Kevin Frasier in fourth with a season-best 15.10.
On vault, Michigan also stayed close to Oklahoma (11-1), scoring 59.05. De los Angeles took second with a 15.05, followed by Mikulak with a 14.95.
Michigan had great routines on the rings, scoring a season-high. Mikulak took fourth, while Sebastian and sophomore Jordan Gaarenstroom added excellent performances.
Though difficult routines and record-setting performances kept the Wolverines afloat, the Sooners began to pull away and widened the gap when Michigan missed four routines on high bar. Mikulak took first in the event, tallying a 15.25 in a routine of high difficulty.
Freshman Michael Strathern competed for the first time all season on high bar and parallel bars. He was coming off a stress fracture in his ankle, which Michigan coach Kurt Golder originally thought might force him to redshirt.
“He did a good job,” Golder said. “He hit both of his routines. It was especially a bright spot when we went high bar first. (We had) a whole bunch of missed routines, (so) he was the bright spot in the high-bar lineup. It was his first time competing this season and his first time since the U.S. Championships last June.
“I think he will compete the rest of the year, and hopefully we will be able to expand him an event or two, maybe even three.”
Mikulak tied for first with Dalton in the final rotation on the parallel bars. The difficulty of Mikulak’s routines fueled him to beat Dalton in the all-around, hitting only four out of six routines to Dalton’s six-for-six finish. De los Angeles finished third in the all-around with an 87.00 and Sebastian came in fifth (81.70). Mikulak and Dalton will compete as U.S. teammates next weekend in Seattle at the Pacific Rim Competition in the last international competition for the team before the Olympics this summer.
Meanwhile, the Oklahoma home site, the Lloyd Noble Center will host the 2012 NCAA Championships in April.
“We now know the arena well,” Sebastian said. “We know what is going to be expected when we raise our hands to compete. So I think, overall, our confidence has just been going to a whole new level.”
The Wolverines will take the motivation of their performance against Oklahoma and frustrating loss at Stanford into their home meet next weekend against Illinois-Chicago.