Sam Mikulak wins his 4th consecutive US Championship

Submitted by Michigasling on June 5th, 2016 at 10:33 PM

As we say goodbye to our beloved softball seniors, including Super Sierra, it might help to  know that one of our previous all-time champs is still going at it.  After missing last year's Worlds because of two separate injuries, Sam made it clear that he's back in shape in time for the Olympics he was always aiming for.  (He surprised himself by making the team in 2012, and then surprised everyone else by how well he did.)  The two-day competition also determined the 18-man national team.  They'll move on to compete in the Olympic trials in a couple weeks to determine the 5-man Olympic team. 

Speaking of teams and the future, three members of the current M team (freshmen Emyre Cole and NCAA vault champion Anthony McCallum, Jr., and sophomore Dmitri Belanovksi, all of whom were members of Junior US teams) were invited to compete with the seniors, along with alum Adrian de los Angeles (who was runner-up in the NCAA All-Around in his sophomore year to teammate Sam).  Naturally the TV coverage was of the current national team, but Youtube videos of each event show the promise of the youngsters.  Sophomore Dmitri has more consistency, but both Emyre and Anthony are so exciting to watch-- Emyre with his fluid lines and Anthony with his explosiveness-- that one can see the future when they're able to balance the excitement with more control and strength. 

I'll post now and then try to embed Sam's impossibly difficult high-bar routine (from day 1, so the crowd is sparse), which shows what that combination of high-flying excitement and staying off the ground can look like.  He'd tell you it's not perfect, but not perfect for Sam is obviously pretty damn good.


Wolverine Devotee

June 5th, 2016 at 10:48 PM ^

Sam Mikulak is probably the best gymnast in Michigan history.

Hard to argue against it. Nissen Emery winner, Olympian, led the team to back-to-back National Championships.


June 6th, 2016 at 6:55 PM ^

Unfortunately, Hilton is the sponsor of the national team training program, so he has to wear their uniform now that he's a non-student team member and trains there full time.  At the actual Olympics, they'll get to wear USA. 

I admit I almost pulled the sign in the OP when I noticed that big Hershey sign.  But I liked Sam's smile.  So I kept it.


June 6th, 2016 at 1:33 AM ^

Are the scores cumulative at all?  By winning the US Championship is he in better shape to make the Olympic team now, or do all the scores reset for the Olympic Trials?


Congrats to the young man--being dominant in gymnastics over a 4-year period is no small feat.  In a sport where even one small mistake can ruin your entire meet, that is incredibly impressive. 


June 6th, 2016 at 7:43 AM ^

but yes, the results of this competition carry over to the trials.  The all-around scores determine the winner of an individual competition, but there's a separate points total that figures into team placement.  Not sure of the exact number, but points are given for being in 1st, 2nd or 3rd in an event.  I think if you're 1st or 2nd in 3 separate events and finish high enough in the all-around you're an automatic lock. 

The first 18 in the points total from this competition made the national team and move on, but there are guys whose all-around totals may have been higher than some who made the team because they didn't place high enough in individual events to get the necessary points.


June 6th, 2016 at 1:40 PM ^

What I was talking about above was only the point system for making the US team which is matter of fact based on the placement.  The scoring of events themselves used to be so subjective it was like a strike zone moving from pitch to pitch or somebody being called for targeting and kicked out of the game, and we can see from replay they're full of-- But I digress.

Skating and gymnastics used to be as frustrating, and now known to be pretty corrupt in the past.  They've made great efforts to make it more scientific, which is still pretty weird with skating when there's "artistic" score as well as "technical" score.  People have different theories of what's artistic. 

In gymnastics (at least for men), they've made great strides for objective judging, with two separate panels:  one judges the difficulty and one the execution, and the two scores are combined.  Execution means he got over the bar, but were his legs completely together when he was in the air with his toes pointed, did he stick his landing or do a hop, skip and jump?  (Demerits for stepping out of bounds are separate.)  Did the guy on rings do the difficult skill while managing to keep the rings still?  Yes, he did the skill, but he was swinging and that lowers the execution.  They have all the routines on their laptops and can look for those little tiny things that take off a mini-point or two and discuss and compare. 

It's hard for most of us to watch and determine why one guy's routine looked perfect but was scored much lower than someone else's, but that's because we don't understand that their skills were much easier.   There are standard points for each skill, and the judges have the planned routine in front of them and can see if it was completed or only partly completed or totally f'd up.  The difficulty score goes down from the posted possible total.  Now that I've watched more gymnastics and listen to the commentary, I wouldn't be able to score myself, but I can get a pretty good idea of the range of the score, and the comparison between routines seems pretty fair.  (Coaches can always challenge, and the judges go back to the laptops and look for evidence.)  Sam's high bar routine above had some glitches, so he didn't get the full possible execution score, but it had such a high start value that he was still happy.  His first day he was way ahead of the crowd going into his last routine, one that had lots of beautiful execution and difficult, but he made several very uncharacteristic (and obvious) oops-es and ended the first day in second. 

PS:  Seeing it live makes it all make more sense.  And more exciting.  These guys are scary good on a simply scary level of competition.  And all of them fall now and then, and all of them can ruin a great score by a big step on the landing.