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Michigan gymnastics coach, Alpena alum Kurt Golder reflects on 2021 season

Courtesy Photo University of Michigan men's gymnastics coach Kurt Golder, right is pictured after being named the 2021 Big Ten Coach of the Year in April. Golder, an Alpena High alum earned the award for the sixth time.

ALPENA — In 25 years of coaching the University of Michigan men’s gymnastics program, Kurt Golder has earned his fair share of honors.

But, to Golder, each one of them is uniquely special, and that’s certainly true of the two he earned this season after coaching his team during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In April, Golder, an Alpena High alum, was named a CGA Midwest Regional coach of the year along with his assistant coaches Yuan Xiao and Jordan Gaarenstroom.

That same month, Golder also earned Big Ten Coach of the Year for the sixth time in his career.

“It’s very special. You think you get used to it, but every year you get (an award) it’s a real honor,” Golder said. “When you get it, it’s very special.”

The Wolverines fell short of their goal to win another national championship, but in a different kind of year — one that included virtual meets — Michigan nonetheless turned in an impressive season.

The Wolverines earned a third place team finish at the NCAA finals and 11 gymnasts earned 13 All-America citations, its most since 2013. The citations brought Michigan’s all-time program total up to 230.

Additionally, sophomore Paul Juda was named the Big Ten Gymnast of the Year, becoming the eighth Wolverine to do so.

In the Big Ten, Michigan secured regular season and Big Ten championship titles. In a wire-to-wire in April in Nebraska, the Wolverines won their 18th Big Ten Championship by 13 points — the biggest margin of victory in the championship since 1977.

“They met most of my expectations and I was very, very happy and proud of all of them,” Golder said of his team. “It was a very challenging year, but we got through it. You’ve got to roll with the punches and stay optimistic and our team did a great job all season.”

A member of the Alpena Sports Hall of Fame, Golder has led Michigan to four national championships in 25 seasons.

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