Michigan defends gymnastics title

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Michigan's Sam Mikulak won his third all-around title, and the host Wolverines successfully defended their NCAA men's gymnastics team title Friday night.

Mikulak let out a primal yell after winning the final event and 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."

Michigan had the lead after the first rotation and never gave it up as it claimed the school's sixth national crown. It finished with 445.05 points to top Oklahoma by more than four points. It was the fourth straight runner-up finish for the Sooners, who ended the competition comfortably ahead of third-place Stanford.

"It doesn't get any better than winning at home," said coach Kurt Golder, who celebrated his fourth team championship. "It's just fantastic."

Mikulak led Modi by a hundredth of a point after five rotations and finished with a 15.95 in floor exercise -- the best score in the event -- to secure his sixth career individual title.

The 2012 U.S. Olympian will have a chance to become the NCAA's most decorated male gymnast Saturday night when he returns for the individual finals in four events, including the parallel bars, in which he had the best score Friday in the event he won last spring.

"Last year was real hard to sleep," he said, referring to last year's individual championships, in which he won two titles. "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.

Mikulak also had the night's best performance in the vault and tied Oklahoma's Michael Reid for the top score on the pommel horse.

Mikulak's worst event Friday was the horizontal bar, which he won the past two seasons. A fall during his routine dropped him into a tie for 37th.

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

Illinois' Jordan Valdez was best in the horizontal bar, and Oklahoma's Michael Squires had the top score on the rings, 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 to join Mikulak on the season's final night.

"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."

Illinois, Ohio State and Penn State rounded out the team standings.

Williams said it was noisy all night but he never minded.

"It's great. That's what we need for gymnastics. It's awesome," he said. "We hope we can get a crowd like that next year when we host at Oklahoma."

Stanford was third in the team standings.

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