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.

17 thoughts on “US Nationals – Men’s Day 1 in Review”

  1. Thanks for doing this! Initial thoughts: very reasonable compromise but much harder to read through as you watch the meet after the fact, and only 1.5 tweets fit on my phone screen at a time.

    1. Agreed. I’d personally vote for a routine-by-routine blog. But can’t really complain since these sites are mostly unpaid labor by the bloggers. So hope the chat party is fun for those who can follow it at the time.

  2. World Team will be hard to be crack with these five. Malone looked good but Pan Ams was a bit scary. He could be a good option for PH/HB.

    Whittenburg will likely be the best chance with VT/SR.

    Darkhorse: Robert Neff- solid AAer, keeps getting better. Had a decent Pan Ams and was able to score a 14 internationally on PH.

  3. I actually like your skill-by-skill live blog much better than this alternative. 😯😯😯

  4. Just switched on and immediately irrationally mad at how they display scores. I want the e-score and d-score and total. Not your stupid arrows and deductions. You don’t try and make the scoring of any other sports easier. Don’t pander to us NBC. People will be able to follow, it’s not that complicated. And you can talk about the mythical perfect 10 when talking about escores.

  5. This is amazing spencer.
    Thanks for putting in this great work.
    I agree with your worlds predictions theory.
    I wonder if they’ll expand the list of selection camp teamers from 8 to maybe 10 to account for the possibilities?
    Brett McClure seems to have his head screwed on straight..

  6. Don’t count Donnell Whittenburg out. He should have gone to Rio. It was a crime to send Chris Brooks to the Olympics over Donnell. He was a solid albeit inconsistent all-arounder, however his floor, vault, and rings would have been a valuable addition to the team. He seems to be recovering for an injury I’m not completely aware of, but at full strength he’s a force to be reckoned with imo.

    1. Donnell had shoulder surgery sometime last year. His recovery seems to be really slow unfortunately. He competed last year when he probably wasn’t ready yet and just did a few events, didn’t do them super well, and then wasn’t named to the national team. There was some controversy over that (compared to Eddie Penev who was also injured and didn’t compete and was named to the national team).

      What’s going on with Marvin Kimble these days? Still unrecovered from last year’s hamstring injury? I feel like we haven’t seen him at all since then. Which seems like a very long time for a hamstring injury.

    2. Chris had a HB routine the team needed for TF, which Donnell didn’t have. Donnell was in direct competition with Jake Dalton in terms of events, and Jake was just better. I understand why Donnell couldn’t make the Olympics.

      I do agree I wouldn’t have picked Chris for the team, but Paul Ruggeri should have gone instead – better HB than Chris, better FX/VT than Alex Naddour, Jake could do PB and not be much worse than Chris. Who cares if Paul was a bit inconsistent? That team depended on Sam anyway.

      1. I’m curious why the gymternet is so hung up on Ruggieri? He seems to be doing a great job on the athletes council but looking at his gymnastics career just by the numbers, he didn’t have great results on HB at Trials whereas Brooks did. And unlike, say, Danell Leyva, Ruggieri didn’t have a history of hitting internationally that the committee could have looked at to ignore a bad meet.

      2. (comment above was mine, wordpress likes to log me off sometimes)

        Paul had better HB scoring potential than Chris and outscored him on hits (both days at Nationals) and would also give the team extra tenths on FX/VT. Chris was more consistent, but the correct strategy for Team USA, a team that was in absolutely zero danger of missing TF even with a meltdown, but had little chance of winning a medal if every team does what they can do, was to go all in and pick team members based on scoring potential. Paul’s inconsistency compared to his potential was absolutely not a net negative to a team that was already taking a big risk by having Sam do the AA in TF, so they should have taken him to Rio. It could have paid off, and even if it didn’t, they’d be like 6th instead of 5th in TF.

    3. Im still not over his Rio omission. That was absolutely criminal. I couldnt believe it.
      Was actually shocked to see him continue in the sport, albeit the happy type. His presumed pursuit for a worlds and ultimately an olympic spot is the only reason i am paying the mens comp any attention at all; this weekend and upcoming weekends in the near future. Go Donnell!!!!

  7. I don’t know if you deliberately changed the format from Twitter cards to text for mobile but it looked different when I came back in the evening and was much easier to casually browse after the fact (though no way to load it without spoilers, so I waited until I finished watching the meet).

    Is the men’s side still using last year’s point system? Does that select people for the national team and the world’s training camp, or inform it, or is it 100% McClure?

    Loved Whittenbergs’s Prudenova.

    1. Donnell landed a great Roche on Day 1, however he needs to upgrade this to a Dragelescu to be taken seriously. The problem with Donnell right now is that many elements seem so rough, like he could crash them at any time. If he can perform all of his difficulty in a less-scary manner, then I think he would at least be added to the National Team. I don’t see him making Stuttgart this year.

  8. Yul’s rings score doesn’t surprise me. Nearly all his holds were less than 2 seconds which is -0.3 each. He also had a couple of dead (rest) hangs that were held too long. His positions weren’t great either and he also had what was potentially a 0.3 hop back on his dismount.

    You can’t fault his form, but his execution was really lacking in this routine.

  9. On the NBC broadcast, Daggett alluded to an injury to Matt Wenske (I think) on vault in the last rotation. Anyone know what happened with that?

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