Three members from the No. 8 Michigan men’s gymnastics team excelled in the Winter Cup in Las Vegas this weekend.
Sophomore Sam Mikulak and freshmen Adrian de los Angeles and Stacey Ervin all earned appearances in the finals after Thursday’s competition, with Mikulak and de los Angeles earning spots on the U.S. National Team.
To make the finals, a gymnast had to be a top-10 performer in any event in Thursday’s competition. De los Angeles was at the head of the team, placing third on the vault, while Ervin placed ninth in the event. Mikulak placed fourth on high bar, fifth on parallel bars, and sixth on rings.
“I have taken teams to the Winter Cup since I’ve been at Michigan, so almost 14 years (here) and before that in my coaching career,” said Michigan coach Kevin Golder. “This is the best that we have ever done, and the best I have ever had a group do.”
Though Golder had concerns about Mikulak’s health, the sophomore overcame a series of nagging minor injuries that he has been battling with for the past few weeks.
Former Wolverine Ian Makowske (2008-11) and 2013 Michigan signee Konner Ackerman also competed on Thursday, with Makowske finishing ninth on high bar — good enough to advance him to the finals as well.
In the finals on Saturday, Mikulak earned second place on the parallel bars with a 15.10 score, tied for seventh on the rings (14.70) and placed seventh on the high bar (13.95), advanced his plans to make the U.S. Olympic team.
“I was real pleased, and I had a lot of confidence going into the competition,” Mikulak said. “I felt like everything that I was doing with my routines was really going to pan out for me during the competition. I still have a few upgrades that I can still put in, and I’m going to get my floor going sometime soon. This just shows me that I still have the rest of the season to progress and just keep getting better and better.”
De los Angeles placed 10th all-around in his rookie performance with a total score of 85.05 on Saturday. He placed fifth on vault, eighth on pommel horse and 11th on parallel bars, earning him one of the three wild-card selections for the national team.
“I’m completely satisfied with my performance,” de los Angeles said. “I came into the meet with a positive attitude and I ended up doing pretty well, so I am happy with that. Confidence-wise, this is huge that the senior team believes in me and thinks I have the abilities to perform. This will also help me trust myself in all of my routines from here on out.”
Ervin scored the best on the team on the floor event with a score of 14.55 and tied for sixth. He also tied for 13th on the vault, but it wasn’t quite enough to earn a spot on the national team.
Golder said the success of Mikulak, de los Angeles and Ervin at the Winter Cup would motivate the rest of the team in its upcoming home meet against Ohio State and SUNY Brockport.
“They are on the national stage, and they are young guys,” Golder said. “They made maize and blue look real good.”