that is nice bonus change
While most of us were otherwise occupied, the Men's Gymnastics Team won their second straight Big Ten Championship, generally considered the strongest conference for gymnastics. Sam Mikulak, defending B1G, NCAA and U.S. champion, successfully defended his title by a generous margin, winning 4 out of 6 events outright, scoring above 15 on all events and an almost unheard of score of 16 or over on two (high bar and parallel bars). (The scoring is unlike the traditional limit of a perfect 10, which the women still use. Enough to know that on the elite level a score in the 14.00's is good and above 15.00 is championship material.)
The bad news is that Stacey Ervin, who can actually beat the Mighty Mikulak on floor, tore his biceps on parallel bars, but, as seems to be traditional with these guys,* finished the event without those of us watching even aware of his injury until he was seen with a huge pack of ice around his arm. He obviously couldn't compete in any other events, but, as the Mitch McGary of the mat men, It didn't stop him from jumping around and cheering on his teammates. Adrian de los Angeles, Sam's runner-up in the NCAA all-around last year, was unfortunately injured early this year, and yet the team had the depth to win without their expected high scores.
*Sam Mikulak fractured both ankles in a meet in Puerto Rico after his freshman championship season and didn't know until later. He got taped up and kept going. But that's the reason he's only won three championships.
The individual event championships will be on BTN tomorrow afternoon, in case anyone else wants to multitask.
After his performance in this weekend's Winter Cup Challenge (a national invitational meet), sophomore gymnast Adrian de los Angeles was named to the U.S. National Team, joining fellow Wolverine Sam Mikulak. (Sam couldn't compete this weekend due to injury, but he and his fellow Olympians are automatically named to this year's US team.)
Adrian was the surprise all-around leader after the prelims, going back and forth with Olympian Jake Dalton (who competes for Oklahoma). Dalton pulled it out in the final event, with Adrian finishing in second, ahead of Danell Levya, the all-around bronze medalist in last year's Olympics. Pretty good company.
Also making Michigan proud was sophomore Stacey Ervin, who was 7th in the complicated qualification point system going into the finals even though he didn't compete in all 6 events, making the finals on the strength of his placing top 10 in 3 out of his 4 prelim events (including tying Adrian for 2nd in floor). In fact, he was the only qualifier in the top 15 not to have been in all 6 events.
The following picture of Adrian and Sam is posted as a public service to prove that gymnastics isn't only fun and games; success follows commitment to down-in-the-dirt (or chalk) blue-collar teamwork.
A full report of Mens' Gymnastics' recent success wouldn't be complete without adding that 5th-year senior Syque Caesar (who competed in the Olympics for Bangladesh), broke the NCAA record for parallel bars when Michigan upset #2 Stanford two weeks ago. Not surprisingly, he was named both national and Big Ten gymnast of the week. Boy, these guys are good.