US Nationals – Men’s Day 2 Live Blog

Critical topics heading into day 2:

1) Akash Modi. Modi did the most of anyone to help his worlds prospects on the first day by finishing 2nd AA, but perhaps even more significant were his top-3 finishes on FX and HB. Do that again, and he would be on a presumptive worlds team heading to the selection camp. Right now, the US needs third routines on both those events, and he’s making a case as a best-available-option type among depleted ranks.

2) Sam Mikulak is going to worlds, and going as the best AA threat the US has, but his competition history makes it nearly impossible to consider him as a true contender in the AA despite his scoring potential. We’ve been burned so many times. A hit day 2 wouldn’t change that outlook, but it would at least allow us to pretend.

3) Yul Moldauer’s 6th-place performance on the first day was not the end of the world by any means. In fact, it’s only significant if it’s reflective of back problems that will continue to hinder him in the coming months. Then, we have a problem. If not, he’s still your US #2. And even with a weak day on Thursday, he still put up scores on floor, rings, and vault that would get him onto a worlds team. His day 2 performance is about allaying our injury fears.

4) What’s an Allan Bower to do? The Grace McCallum of the men’s side, Bower had an excellent day on Thursday (until high bar) but is still left in that same, unenviable position of not having enough team-final-level scores in his repertoire. His lone top-3 finish on Thursday came on horse, and if you’re taking someone just for horse, that person is Alec Yoder, not Allan Bower. Bower finished only a couple tenths behind Modi in the all-around, but because of his distribution of strengths/weaknesses, his case is not nearly as strong as Modi’s right now. He needs some very high event finishes (which probably include some other people missing) to truly make his case, though a repeat of day 1 should certainly be enough to get him to the selection camp.

5) So, the selection camp. The committee is currently looking for 8 people to advance to September’s camp. Mikulak and Moldauer are of course going. Kimble’s petition must be granted. Modi’s events on day 1 made his case (even if he misses on day 2, I think he should still go to camp). You want Yoder’s pommel horse 15 as an option. If Bower repeats day 1, he has earned a spot because of his AA ability. I think the same goes for Donothan Bailey, which I wouldn’t necessarily have picked heading in. If you were selecting a worlds team based on day 1 alone, Bailey would be on it. His issue is that his strengths and scores sort of mimic what Modi would bring to a team and would also be rendered entirely redundant by Kimble. His spot in the 8 is likely still dependent on hitting a complete meet on day 2, but if he does, you want him at the camp as an “if Kimble isn’t ready, he can put up something” option (and quality alternate).

6) And then we have the Whittenburg conundrum. We saw Whittenburg on two events (rings and PBars) on day 1, making a valiant effort but clearly not performing up to worlds-selection-camp level. Do you take a gamble on advancing him as part of the 8 based on an assumption that he can progress in the intervening period? Or do you just look at what he’s doing right now and say, “Not good enough,” which it isn’t at this point? Day 2 could tell us a lot in that regard.

7) Colin van Wicklen is also very much in the conversation as part of the 8. He won HB on the first day, an area of American weakness right now, and he has a Dragulescu on vault, the only 5.6 shown by anyone on the first day. He needs to hit that on day 2, but if he does, that vault and a potential high bar can make a convincing argument that he should continue to be considered at the selection camp.

8) Those are probably your contenders. Neff did well to finish 7th on day 1, but his HB 13.700 wasn’t quite enough to stand out despite his 5.9 D. He’d have to go 14s on day 2. Sean Melton also had a rough first day that didn’t help his cause in too many respects, but even with that rough day, he had three top-5 finishes, so don’t completely ignore him on day 2. Stephen Nedoroscik and his pommel goggles aren’t getting a lot of attention despite a 15.100 on horse—he’s a victim of Alec Yoder’s existence and that he’s competing only the one event—but it was still a 15.100 on horse.

Men’s senior competition starts at 3:30 ET/12:30 PT – (International feed)


Introductions underway now.

The national anthem will be performed by the year 1924.

Nastia thinks it’s night.

ROTATION 1

Delbridge – VT – Kas 1/1, chest down

Bailey – FX – double front, clean but a hop forward – 2.5 to layout with a lop that he wouldn’t have wanted – mostly good landings though, stuck front 1.5 – solid russian circles – 2/1 stuck – sticks double arabian, a little deep but holds it. Good clean routine overall.

Melton – VT – pretty good double front in the air, just two small hhops to the side.

Wiskus – HB – Yam – hop full with legs – Kolamn, catches with some legs – nice Kovacs – big pause in stalder 1/2 with legs – tak 1/2 – DLO 2/1, stuck, that was the highliught

Van Wicklen – FX – pike double front 1/2 out, small hop – front 2/1 to front tuck 1/1 with a hop – 2.5 to 1/2, some messy legs – 2/1, stuck – 1.5 to 1/2, with small hop – double arabian, great legs form, but a step OOB.

Bower – PB – peach, small hesitation – tuck 1/2 – healy – diam – front straddle to arms, a little close – travels with a lean on stutz – tuck 1/2 to arms- double pike, stuck – pretty good, not great, some clear errors.

Oyama finishes floor with stuck 3/1.

Moldauer – PB – big front straddle to arms, so good – peach – pause on peach 1/2 but works through – long swing diam to tuck 1/2, nice – arm tuck 1/2 – double front 1/2 out, stuck. Well, that was kind of better…

Mikulak – FX – 2.5 to double front, hop forward this time – front 2/1 to front tuck full with a hop – 1.5 to front full tuck, bad punch but pulled it around, but that’s a repeated skill there – 2/1 stuck – 3/1 with hop to the side. Not awesome, hops on pretty much every landing, but a hit.

14.350. He gets the same D score as the first day, so apparently they didn’t have problems with the repeated tuck full. Sam things.

Modi – PH – generates a little bit of a pike as he goes, started well – and toward the end the legs start to go with a major separation, and then some leg crossing through to the dismount, but overall a useful hit for him that will keep him in it.

Standings news is that Bailey moves ahead of Bower after one event. Mikulak still clear and Modi in 2nd. Moldauer still 6th but already gained .500 on day 1’s score.

Van Wicklen’s 13.900 on floor is an improvement, but it’s not a “he’s a floor guy” score. Need 14s at least there.

Andrea questioning Brett about these NEW FANGLED NUMBER THINGS WHAT BE THOSE.

Melton – PB – peach to one rail with a gigantic struggle, keeps it going but basically goes horizontal for a while – struggles in a healy as well – has another arch on handstand – double pike, hop back, and just little arches everywhere even after the major early break.

Van Wicklen – PH – Good one.

Bower – HB – Yam – ZLM – Tak 1/1, nice finish position but some knees – Kovacs a little close on catch – Tak – stalder – DLO 1/1, some pike and a hop forward. Again, OK, but won’t improve his position

Howard sticks double front off PBars.

Fairly crazy double front from Schaal on vault – limbs everywhere.

Modi – SR – “he should be completely slat” – iron cross to malese – tuck to another cross – they’re a little high for my taste – good vertical hs position – double double tuck, hop back. Solid routine again.

Mikulak – PH – much cleaner throughout today, that was the routine he wanted.

A hit HB from Moldauer gives him 13.550, and he’s on his way up, moving ahead of Bower who received 12.900. Yam – Tak 1/2 with some knees – Kovacs is good – hop 1/1 – hop 1.5, OK – DLO 1/1, stuck.

Bailey – PH – super smooth and nice height over the horse – and just as I say that he bangs his knee and loses form, keeps it going though.

I’ve noticed a lot more of the US guys able to keep going on horse after mistakes rather than Russian-PTing off the horse the second something goes wrong.

Bailey still gets 14.200 on PH, even with that big leg break.

Suzuki – HB – Yam – Tak 1/2, really nice – layout tkatchev – tkatchev 1/2 – Tak – hop 1/1 is fairly late – DLO 1/1, leans over and swims but holds the stick

Bailey’s big PH score gets him into a tie with Modi for 2nd. Yoder is 4th, Moldauer up to 5th, ahead of Bower, but Bower is done with his lowest scores and will expect to move up.

Van Wicklen only went 12.550 on horse. Must have missed something there glancing to the international feed. Not a super important event for him.

ROTATION 3

Neff – VT – Kas 1/1, step to the side and a little lean – some feet throughout

Bower – FX – front double pike, good, small hop – double double, stuck, very good – frotn 2/1 to 1/2, a little low but held stick – 2/1, stuck – 1.5 to front full, also stuck – 2.5 with a hop. Nearly as good as he can do. Strong.

Stephenson holds a stick on a Kas 1.5 on vault with a swim.

Modi – VT – Kas 1.5 – hop the side, good.

Moldauer – FX – frotn 2.5, stuck – double arabian 1/2 out, also nailed – front 2/1 to front full, a little hop – oooooh he just fell on flares – back 2.5 to 1/2 stuck – 2/1, stuck – 3/1, stuck. All the passes were actually perfect, and then he fell on flares. Tim thinks it’s a tenth. But come on, MAG code.

Breckenridge – VT – Kas 1/1 with a hop back

Mannon fab on PH. Still so fun to watch.

Moldauer gets 14.500 on floor. MAG code, I don’t get you.

Mikulak – SR – good Matlese – lower to cross, good position – planche, solid – tucks and pike to a cross, very low and struggles a little to hold it – double pike up to handstand – struggle and dip in cast hs – double double tuck, and stuck. He’ll take that routine, mostly, but a couple breaks.

14.250 is a tenth lower than the first day.

Bailey – SR – Maltese, solid – uprise to maltese – planche position is good – totallyu struggles up to handstand, lots of form breaks and not reeaching vertical, double double tuck, stuck, but some real issues there.

Fall from Melton on HB because of course.

Just 12.850 for Bailey. He’ll fall behind Moldauer in the standings, but will stay ahead of Bower by just a tad.

Van Wicklen – SR – nice cross – front pike to cross, also a good position – straddle planche – good hs position – front pikes to front tucks to straddle sit, up to handstand – double tuck 1.5 with a hop but overall good.

Yoder is holding onto 6th, with a larger margin over the rest.

Vernyi – FX – finishes with 3/1, large lunge back and to the side

We didn’t even see Whittenburg’s rings on the broadcast, which is telling, but he went 14.400, an improvement over the first day.

ROTATION 4

Nastia still thinks it’s night.

Mikulak – VT – Kas 1.5 with a small hop forward – pretty good, some legs on block and a tuck early

Moldauer – PH –  super smooth through his flares – just a small hesitation up to handstand on dismount but nothing, really good set

Modi – PB – peach, good – peach 1/2 a little short with some legs – and a fall on a bhavsar – what even was that? – just missed a hand. Redoes it, a little high on catch but fine – Tippelt, is good – stutz, solid – full in, well short with a lunge. It was doing so well.

Hop forward from Bailey on Kas 1.5

Van Wicklen – VT – Drag is quite a bit better – hop back, still a little low, but should get the benefit of that 5.6.

12.4 for Modi on PB. Now he’s behind Moldauer and Bailey. Moldauer’s path to second is open now.

Oyama – VT – Kas 1.5, wayyyyyy short and a stumble back and hands down

Brodarzon – HB – Yam, nice distance and height – tkatchev – weiler with a little hesitation – DLO 1/1, some pike throughout, hop forward

Neff – PB – peach, peach to one – hesitation and bend in handstand, and an arch – stutz with a lean – double pike, hop back

Nice shape on double front from Howard on floor, but shortish with a hop back. front 2/1 to front tuck full with a hop – 2/1, stuck. double arabian, hop forward.

Bower – PH – one large leg break but saved it – otherwise solid and similar to his first day performance. It’s looking like another solid AA placement for Bower, which will be enough to get him to the selection camp if nothing else, but the thing to watch is his specific event placements. That’s where his argument is.

Bower goes 14.400 on horse, same as Moldauer, enough to get him into 3rd place AA, just a touch ahead of Bailey and Modi.

Van Wicklen got 14.700 on his vault, which is much better. Enough to make a team for it, though? He goes into 7th.

ROTATION 5

Yoder – PH – one-arm swings on pommels, excellent – Russian on pommels good – one leg break on a travel, not too major – another strong routine. He’ll be the national champ on PH I would guess but it will be close with Nedoroscik. Ooooh, a 14.700 is well lower than the 15.150 from the first day with the leg break on that travel. We’ll see what Nedoroscik does. Still a PH specialist kind of score.

Bailey – PB – 3/4 to 1/4 down, clean – peach 1/2, hit – a couple handstand issues, but small – stutz to one, then stutz – double front 1/2, small hop but overall useful hit.

Kas 1/1 from Bock, short with a lunge to the side.

Bailey goes 14.200 on PB, a half tenth better than the first day. He’s overall down a little on his scores from day one because of that problem on rings, but he’s still scoring well.

Modi – HB – tkatchev to layout tkatchev to tkatchev 1/2 – hit – layout tkatchev 1/2, hit – tka 1/1, over the wrong way – fairly late on a couple pirouettes – double double layout, some legs, a hop forward. Some issues on some critical events for him in the last two rotations.

Buh. 13.100

Bower – SR – Maltese, good – cross, solid position – maltese, also clean – front pikes and front tucks  to straddle planche – good handstands – DLO 1/1, stuck, another strong routine.

Whittenburg – PB – peach – peach 1/2 with a little travel – double tuck, excellent – struggling up to some of his handstands – front straddle, good – tuck 1/2, super high – double front 1/2 out, stuck. Not bad. Getting there.

Bower drops just a touch behind Bailey with one event to go, where Bower would be expected to score higher.

Moldauer – SR – really nice maltese position – swing up to matlese, great – cross, right at horizontal – tucks na dpikes and pikes to cross, smooth – straddle planche, secure – double double tuck, stuck, very very good routine.

Modi has fallen behind Yoder.

Mikulak – PB – front toss, healy down – peach 1/2, pulls it though – peach – high tuck 1/2 – big front straddle swing through – Bhavsar, nice – tippelt is a littl elow but fine – stutz – double front 1/2 out, stuck. That will do.

Nice vault stick from Wiskus.

15.250 for Mikulak. So that happened.

After 5, Mikulak has won. Moldauer is second, Bailey is hanging in 3rd, ahead of Bower and Yoder. Modi has dropped to 6th after those two mistakes. Like I said at the beginning, I think his spot at the selection camp is fine even if he has misses, but he’s not making the team argument he needs to today, and that could be an opening someone like Bower needs.

Whittenburg when 13.800 on PBars, which is good but not enough.

Bailey – HB – Yam – layout tkatchev – tkatchev – tkatcehv 1/2 – tak 1/1, an elbow bend but good vertical – hop full – DLO 1/1, holds the stick with a swim. Very impressed by his overall two-day competition. He’s in the mix now.

13.750 for Bailey, so he’s probably going to fall behind Bower, but still a big day.

Van Wicklen – HB – important routine for him – Yam – layout tkatchev, hit – tkatchev to mixed, small hesitation swinging out – Tak 1/2 is good – layout tkatchev 1/2, hit – DLO 1/1, stuck. Good hit for him.

Just 13.050 for Van Wicklen – probably MAGgy things I didn’t see, looked solid from what I saw. That score does NOT help him.

Bower – VT – Kas 1.5, fine, pretty large bound foward, but once again OK.

14.050, goes just ahead of Bailey. Problem for both is that after Mikulak and Moldauer, it’s all about event contribution.

Moldauer – VT – Kas 1.5, also with more of a bound forward than we would have wanted, but nice form of course

Justus sits down vault

Modi – FX – front double pike, shortish with a lunge back – 2.5 to front full, good – but having some short landings with hops here – did stick his 2/1, as they are expected to do, but lots of hops, including on the 3/1. Not awesome on the landings today.

Mikulak – HB -Cassina, hit – Kolman hit – layout tkatchev to tkatchev, good – tkatchev 1/2, hit as well – tak 1/2 a little short – stalder – DLO 2/1, stuck. Great routine and great day.

14.700 for Mikulak gives him 87.750 on the day.

Yoder – SR – good planche, lower to maltese? – tucks fn apikes into straddle planche – hesitation in a swing up to handstand – double double tuck, stuck – nice one.

That will do it. Moldauer comes back with a 85.450 second day (better than Mikulak’s day 1) to take a clear second place and reassert himself as the US #2, behind Mikulak.

It ended up being a very close race for third, with Bower just ahead of Bailey, with Yoder not too far behind. Yoder laso will deem this a successful championship. Modi sort of fell apart at the end there to finish 6th. He will still make the camp, but he won’t be certain for a team spot with that performance today for just 81.450.

The top 6 AA (Mikulak, Moldauer, Bower, Bailey, Yoder, Modi) should make the camp along with the petition from Kimble. That’s 7 of 8. As for the 8th…?

Van Wicklen’s vault and possible HB probably gives it to him unless you really believe in the power of Whittenburg to progress in a month’s time.

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15 thoughts on “US Nationals – Men’s Day 2 Live Blog”

  1. Coming from hockey, where there’s an ongoing shift towards analytics (much to the despair of the Trusted Hockey Men old boys club), it’s interesting/hilarious to hear Andrea bringing it up here. “Numbers analytics stuff” indeed, Andrea.

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  2. I think Van Wicklen just made his case with both HB and VT, two areas that are lacking for a team made up of Sam, Yul, Donathan, and Bower (who I would take as my 4 locks). The only other place they NEED someone (ie: only have two people scoring 14’s) is on rings.

    So maybe take those 5 and a rings specialist- and there were two other people who finished 1-2 on rings (and neither of them in Whittenberg).

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      1. Ah. I just looked up the last worlds team and there were 6, so I assumed. In that case, if they take Sam (AA minus VT), Yul (AA minus PH), Bailey (PB, HB), and Bower (FX, PH), then they are missing at least one routine on rings, pommel, vault, and high bar. They would get away with using Sam on vault if needed and Bailey or Bower on PH.

        No one left has strength in every area they need so: Yoder could do PH and rings potentially. Melton could do vault and rings. VanWicklen could do vault and HB. If Whittenberg could get back vault he’d have a shot at rings/vault. No idea candidate.

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  3. Kimble and Whittenburg are just to beat up to risk taking in a 5-4-3/5-3-3 scenario.
    World Team: Bailey, Bower, Mikulak, Moldeaur, Van Wicklen

    FX (Bailey) Bower, Moldeaur, Mikulak
    PH: (Moldeaur) Bailey, Mikulak, Bower
    SR: (Van Wicklen) Bower, Mikulak, Moldeaur
    VT: (Bailey) Mikulak, Moldeaur, Van Wicklen
    PB: (Bower) Bailey, Mikulak, Moldeaur
    HB: (Moldeaur) Van Wicklen, Bailey, Mikulak

    A bit weak on SR- but something has to give. With Van Wicklen they boost VT and HB.

    Bower is consistent and that might be what the team needs….just a hit set in TF on FX/PH/SR from him in the lead off.

    Also, Bailey, Mikulak, Bower on PH is probably one of the better lineups in the World as long as they hit cleanly. HB could go very well also with Van Wicklen, Bailey, and Mikulak—if they hit.

    I am nervous about adding Bailey because he is inconsistent and was a mess at the Birmingham World Cup- but he was strong here and there isn;t many other options.

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    1. Rich: I agree. I think this is the most ideal team we could get with who the US currently has healthy. And it honestly isn’t a bad team. Just, like you said, US men aren’t known for hitting when it counts.

      In other news: WHY are US men so inconsistent? 😦
      I know in Japan and China, it’s their job there and can focus more time on it, but GB gymnastics is figuring it out and they don’t have national training centers where all the gymnasts live and work.

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      1. Honestly, I feel part of the issue surrounding consistency is that the men have never really had any consequences for poor performance. Imagine if Sam Mikulak was on the women’s team in the Martha Karolyi era, he would likely have been drummed out a long time ago. I’m not saying that the solution is to institute an equally abusive system for men’s gymnastics, but at some point there has to be some accountability enforced or things will never get better.

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  4. If the team needs help on rings they could take Alex Diab or Trevor Howard. Or if they are too untested they could just take Whittenburg to the selection camp and see if he’s better in a month. Clearly he’s still coming back but he has the experience and is a solid backup pretty much anywhere. Not sure if he’s even training the other 4 events yet tho

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    1. The problem is Diab and Howard aren’t usable anywhere else.
      Neither were asked to the selection camp and Whittenburg was left off also.

      Donathan Bailey
      Allan Bower
      Marvin Kimble
      Sam Mikulak
      Akash Modi
      Yul Moldauer
      Colin VanWicklen
      Alec Yoder

      5 of these guys are on the team and the other three are alternates.
      Yoder and Modi were my two alternates, so I think the only one that could disrupt the competition team would be Kimble. He would likely knock out Bailey IMO.

      FX (Van Wicklen) Bower, Moldeaur, Mikulak
      PH: (Moldeaur) Kimble, Mikulak, Bower
      SR: (Bower) Kimble, Mikulak, Moldeaur
      VT: (Bower) Mikulak, Moldeaur, Van Wicklen
      PB: (Kimble) Bower, Mikulak, Moldeaur
      HB: (Moldeaur) Van Wicklen, Kimble, Mikulak

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    2. Dear Anonymous,
      Please learn to count:
      1. Mikulak
      2. MoldAEur
      3. Kimble
      4. Bower
      5. Van Wicklen

      Where is the 6th person in my scenario?

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  5. I like the 8 selected for camp. The question mark is Kimble. If Kimble isn’t on the team, then maybe Modi. I don’t think Donnell has proved himself ready to be considered for Worlds. He should just do conditioning for the rest of the year and focus on 2019.

    I don’t think the US should take a one event gymnast like Yoder unless he can get into event finals. RIght now, Yoder is not PH event final level.

    In general, the men seem more inconsistent compared to the women for all countries. The GB men cannot be held up as the standard for consistency after their 2018 European Championship performance. (ahem) The US men need to improve PH consistency, but that’s nothing new.

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    1. US Men are actually fine on PH compared to the rest of the World.
      They are really lacking on HB, but then again so is the majority of the World. Still Rings isn’t weak, but it is certainly not a strength (no pun intended) and they lack a major rings guy, as they have historically.

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