Gymnasts fourth at nationals

Gymnasts fourth at nationals

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — The Illini men’s gymnastics team finished fourth at the NCAA Championships on Friday night.

Michigan claimed its sixth national crown, scoring 445.05 points. Oklahoma had its fourth straight runner-up finish after scoring 441.65 points. Stanford (436.30 points), the Illini (435.35 points) and Ohio State (433.50 points) rounded out the top five.

Michigan’s Sam Mikulak won his third all-around title, finishing with 91.1 points to top Stanford’s Akash Modi by almost two points.

“Something deep from inside of me came out and I just went vicious,” Mikulak said. “I’ve never had my heart race as much as it did after that routine.”

Mikulak, the 2012 U.S. Olympian, will have a chance to become the NCAA’s most decorated male gymnast tonight when he returns for the individual finals in four events, including the parallel bars, in which he had the best score Friday.

Mikulak, recently named the nation’s top collegiate male gymnast, trails only Nebraska’s Jim Hartung and Illinois’ Joe Giallombardo in the NCAA’s individual rankings. Each finished his career with seven titles.

“Last year was real hard to sleep,” Mikulak said. “But it worked out pretty well. I’m just going to try to go out and give the best performances I can.”

Ohio State’s Sean Melton was third in the all-around with 88.40 points.

Illinois’ C.J. Maestas was fourth in the all-around with 87.05 points.

Michigan had the lead after the first rotation and never gave it up.

“It doesn’t get any better than winning at home,” Michigan coach Kurt Golder said. This is his fourth team championship. “It’s just fantastic.”

Illinois’ Jordan Valdez had the best score in the horizontal bar (15.20 points), and Oklahoma’s Michael Squires had the top score on the rings (15.70 points), the only event in which Michigan failed to secure a berth in the individual finals.

Five other Wolverines posted at least one top-10 finish.

“We thought we gave them a run for their money, but Michigan was just the best team tonight,” Oklahoma coach Mark Williams said. “We did everything we could to close the gap from last year, but they were just too good.”

In addition to placing third in the all-around standings, Maestas was tied for fifth in the floor results (15.35 points) and placed third in the rings (15.30 points). Mike Wilner was tied for fifth in rings (15.00 points).

Spencer Brown contributed to this report.

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