The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

US Nationals – Men’s Day 1 in Review

Now that we’re done with the action, I’m updating this post with reflections on day 1 of senior men’s competition at US Nationals

  • Sam Mikulak hit (or “hit”) six events to go 86.750 and lead the competition by a dramatic margin of nearly three points. It was a good one, with serious highs like PB…and also whatever that vault was. He’s doing fine.
  • Yul Moldauer didn’t stick as many landings as we’ve come to expect, much to the chagrin of Tim Daggett, and his rings E score was obscenely low for reasons I’m not quite sure I understand yet. Still, he did just enough to place 2nd with 84.000. He did the job and remains essential on some key events, even while doing a KOHEI 2012 on his pommel horse dismount. In contrast to rings, that pommel horse score seemed obscenely high for reasons I’m not quite sure I understand yet.
  • After that, it’s tumbleweed time
  • It got exactly 0% easier to round out a world championships team with three final members because Colin van Wicklen withdrew from the day with a concussion (which would potentially bode well for his being able to return in time for selection camp), and we also had people like Alec Yoder falling on pommel horse and finishing 15th AA, which is not ideal, and Allan Bower falling on HB and finishing 10th AA.
  • I actually think Yoder’s potential worlds-team position didn’t take too much of a hit despite the fall because the upside of his pommel horse routine is still so appealing. If you try to put together the highest-scoring five-member team based on today’s results, it includes Steven Nedoroscik for his 14.950 on horse. Yoder can scores 15s while bringing other potential events, so as long as he hits…at least sometimes…his PH strength is still a major asset. He can afford a fall on the first day of nationals. Not sure he can afford a ton of falls throughout the process though.
  • Bower still did break 14 on PH and PB, which are useful events for him. Meanwhile, his all-around total took a hit mostly because of HB, which is not an event you’d expect from him.
  • There were some high profile falls today, but for the most part it was a day of “your hair looks…fine.” It was…OK. Which is to be expected. And I have to say there were as many under-the-radar impressive days as there were rough moments.
  • Those big, impressive days belonged to Shane Wiskus and Trevor Howard, who placed 3rd and 5th respectively. Wiskus recorded the highest vault score of the day (vault didn’t go great as a family, so a mid-14 counted as high), scored a massive 14.500 on PB, and went 14.250 on floor. He changed his narrative from being one of the rabble to a legitimate contender with that meet. But he’ll have to do it again on Saturday.
  • We know Trevor Howard has the rings routine—which he hit for 14.550 to place 2nd on the event—but he also delivered scores over 14 on both vault and PB to elevate his chances to make a true “team contribution” style argument. PBars looked really good today across the field. A lot of believable routines from a lot of people there. It was the highlight event.
  • Not to be overlooked in the “having a great day” conversation was Akash Modi, though it’s a little more expected that he’d be toward the top of the standings because he’s been there before. He’s level with Wiskus for 3rd place in the all-around, with a 14.500 on PB and right around a 14 on FX, PH, and SR. If he continues competing like this, he can fulfill the “gives you something on a bunch of events” role he played last year on the world’s team. (Though it looks like he has a rival for that role in Wiskus now.) None of the scores today were exceptionally high except for PB, but a lot of them are close enough, and that can make a difference.
  • Donnell Whittenburg took 7th all-around, which isn’t a shockingly high placement (HB had a lot to do with that) but did reflect a better day than I expected based on his comments coming into the competition. He’s not there yet, but he recorded a strong rings score of 14.500 and got to 14 on PB on the strength of his difficulty. If he continues doing this, he’ll at least be back in the national team mix, even if Trevor Howard is basically supplanting him in this year’s worlds team conversation. Or at least challenging him.
  • So where are we with respect to that worlds team? No different than we were to start the day. I’m not making any conclusions based on this. Why?
  • Well, your highest scoring team worlds team based only on today’s scores would be Mikulak, Moldauer, Whittenburg, Wiskus, and Nedoroscik…so that doesn’t help because it doesn’t seem too realistic to me.
  • Honestly, the Pan Am Games team has got to feel better about their chances than they were when they woke up this morning because even though they didn’t have an immensely solid meet themselves, they boast some routines that can be influential compared to the scores the guys put up today. I think Neff and Malone can look at what they’re capable of on HB (with a couple other supporting events) compared to the gymnasts today and think…I can add something to a team.
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