What could be better than winning?

Simple.

Revenge.

Last year, the Michigan men’s gymnastics team was defeated by Oklahoma – the top-ranked team in the country. After a 10-point defeat, it is no wonder that the Wolverines are excited to face the Sooners once again at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow night at Cliff Keen Arena.

“It’s going to be quite a challenge,” Michigan senior Kris Zimmerman said. “We have kind of a rivalry going. It will be tough, but if we can go out and hit our routines it will be a great competition.”

Luckily, the Wolverines know what it feels like to be the underdog and come out on top. Last year, the team went into the Big Ten Championships in last place and came out with an impressive second-place finish. The Wolverines also went into NCAAs ranked eighth, and took home a fourth-place finish and a trophy.

“There’s an inner confidence that runs pretty deep,” Michigan coach Kurt Golder said. “Even if the ball isn’t bouncing our way, they all believe deep down in their hearts that they’re going to dig out of it.”

Unfortunately, for two of Michigan’s strongest competitors, the ball hasn’t even been in their court. Fifth-year senior captain Scott Vetere has not been competing due to a shoulder injury and, because of the medical redshirt he took his senior year, has not competed in a year and a half. In addition, Kris Zimmerman has been out due to nagging back trouble. However, tomorrow night they will be back in action competing in anywhere from one to three events.

“Hopefully we will be able to add Scott and Kris one event at a time as we progress through the season and come on strong at the end of the year,” Golder said.

Because the Wolverines have been lacking their full lineup, the coaches and teammates have been looking to the freshmen to come on strong. At last week’s Windy City Invite, freshmen Derek Croad and Andrew DiGiore took a first-and second-place finish, respectively, for Michigan in vault. This weekend, DiGiore may add a double twist to his vault, giving him a 9.7 start value, as opposed to his previous single twist (a 9.3 start value). Another freshman entering the ranks is Gerry Signorelli. He will strengthen the lineup and compete in four events. Although collegiate meets may be intimidating, the freshmen remain confident.

“This one means a lot to us, but I think we can do it and say bye, bye Oklahoma,” Croad said.

Golder believes that the Wolverines will need 213 to win the meet. Michigan has an advantage, because tomorrow will mark Oklahoma’s first meet of the year, and Michigan has already seen action.

“Most improvement takes place between the first and second meet, and we already have that under our belt,” Golder said. “Hopefully, this will be true to form.”

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