US Men’s Selection – Day 1 Live Blog

The 8 men remaining in contention for the US men’s worlds team have gathered in scenic That Hole They Train In At The OTC for the first of two days of competition to determine this year’s world championships squad.

For a full look at what we need to see from these 8, check out the preview. But you can be sure I’ll be crunching numbers after the meet to see which trio best complements Mikulak and Moldauer based on today’s scores. The US has some work to do on the surprise front after GB announced its team today without Courtney Tulloch but including both Dom Cunningham and Giarnni Regini-Moran. (what, did I select this team or something? Because it really feels like I selected it.)

USAG is fulfilling our streaming needs here.

They’re going to compete in Olympic order today, starting on floor, which also happens to be their rotation order in qualification at worlds. So win win.

Floor is an important event for all the contenders as we’re still looking to see who is that third floor routine in TF along with Mikulak and Moldauer. Could be nearly anyone.

Oh. The crowd. There’s 5 of them. Almost like it’s 11am on a Thursday.

Here’s your start list for following along.


#1 – Wiskus – double front 1/2 out, very strong – short on a double double with a hop forward – stuck 2.5 to front full – stuck front 2/1 to 1/2 – small arch on wide-arm handstand, which garners a construction site whistle, which I appreciate – 2/1 with a semi-awkward landing, bounce up – 3/1, hop back.

Medium routine – some really nice moments like stuck landings on 1st, 3rd and 4th passes. Struggled a bit on double double and won’t be happy with the 2/1 landing. 13.750. Well down on his scores from nats.

#2 – Van Wicklen – double front pike 1/2 out, hops back and OOB – front 2/1 to front tuck full with a hop – nice stick on 2.5 to 1/2 – 2/1 side pass, stuck – back 1.5 to front 1/1, hop – nice open shape on double arabian, hop.

The OOB on the first pass is trouble. Some lovely sticks in the middle, but just two sticks out of six, so there are things to take. 13.650 with a 5.5. 

#3 – Whittenburg – front 1/1 to double front pike, hop – front lay to double front 1/2 out, short with hop – double lay full, shuffle back, a couple steps, possible OOB – nice stick on 2.5 side pass – double double tuck, bounce back – double front 1/2, small hop.

Huge difficulty, and no individually major errors on any single pass, but needed to show more control on those landings. Lotttsss of 0.3s there. 13.000 with a 6.2 and 0.6 in ND. Oooooof. From the angle, I couldn’t tell how bad those OOBs were. That routine got fully annihilated.

#4 – Bower – double front pike, hop – double double, holds the stick – front 2/1 to front full, very strong – 2.5 to 1/2, stuck – 2/1, stuck – 3/1, short with a hop.

That was mostly a stick-machine routine. Did his case some good with that one. 14.100 with a 5.7. Advantage Bower. 

#5 – Moldauer – punch randi, hop back – front 2/1 to front full, small hop – nailed double arabian 1/2 out, nice stick – good control on flare work and the form obvi – 2.5 to 1/2, got a little off line and landed short with a hop – arm wave to hold stick on 2/1 – short landing 3/1, hop forward.

Not his strongest routine. Tim would be having a conniption about how he’s not sticking enough. Not a problem set, but shouldn’t be a huge score. 13.800 for a 5.8, so still the #2 routine so far because they’ve all been bouncing around.

#6 – Howard – double front pike, stuck – front lay to double front 1/2 out, stuck, excellent – 1.5 twisting double tuck, hop back – looked a bit short in his wide-arm handstand but got there in the end – 2.5 to front full, does well to hold landing and keep it in – 2/1 pass is poor, short with a hop – double arabian, hop forward.

Beginning was tremendous, but gave away some things he didn’t need to give away on the 2/1, which will take down what could have been a big number. 13.650 with a 5.6.

#7 – Modi – double front pike, large bound – 2.5 to 1.5, another pretty large bounce – stuck 1/2 out of his third pass, but some early form – Manna to handstand, little hesitation in the handstand – randi, small hop – arm wave and college sticks his 2/1 – 3/1 is pretty short, large hop.

Of a theme with everyone else. Wayyyy too many hops, and in Akash’s case, some of them were quite large, so I don’t expect this score to be huge either. 13.450 for a 5.9. Low E but saved a little on D. A little.

#8 – Mikulak – double front pike, medium hop forward – 2.5 to double front with a landing that can only be described as dancing out of it – front 2/1 to front tuck full with a major bend at the hips to try to hold the stick, which he basically does – flare work – 1.5 to front full, semi-stick, he’s selling a lot of landings here – 3/1, smaller bounce back.

Similar to the others in that he didn’t stick as many passes as he would have liked, though none of the landing bounces were hugely huge, and he’ll have the difficulty and execution advantage, so it should still be a solid score. 14.450 with a 6.5

Mikulak – 14.450
Bower – 14.100
Moldauer – 13.800
Wiskus – 13.750
Van Wicklen – 13.650
Howard – 13.650
Modi – 13.450
Whittenburg – 13.000

Winner of that rotation was Bower with the #2 score of the group.

Pommel horse is less of a free-for-all because some of these people just aren’t going to get high scores and no one is expecting them to, and it won’t really affect their cases.


#1 – Van Wicklen – A successful routine for him. Flexed feet throughout and a hip angle and those other built-in things, but minimal non-built-in errors, just one little leg break. 13.100 for a 4.8. Breaking 13 is a win for him on horse.

#2 – Whittenburg – Similar thing for Donnell in that he got through which is a win – a few more non-built-in breaks in there than VW though, like a hesitation up to handstand on his dismount (shouldn’t be a dismount-credit issue but an execution issue) and he got a little awkward in a Russian travel, but kept himself together. 12.700 for a 5.3.

#3 – Bower – Obviously working horse at a higher level than the first two with his elevation over the horse and form and difficulty – a couple things, a knee bend that he worked out, a leg separation, but another solid hit. 14.000 for 6.1

#4 – Moldauer – Obviously very important flare work – he does generate a hip angle in his subsequent travels but overall the toe point and whatnot is of course all Yul so it doesn’t become tragic – lost his swing momentum toward the end and started to get sluggish but worked through it without major issue. 13.700 with a 5.6. What he did on day 1 of nationals but not what he can do.

#5 – Howard – clatters onto the horse on his scissor travel but works through it – nice speed early but really starts to lose elevation and angle as he goes, still another successful routine for his standards achieved by staying on and then getting off as quickly as humanly possible. 12.300 for a 4.3. But like…good job?

#6 – Modi – really speedy work – the moments of hips and knees and feet that we know, but kept to a minimum, begins teetering over in handstand on his dismount but gets everything done in time. Has the difficulty to help him. Good. 13.950 for 6.1

#7 – Mikulak – toe point and body shape a level above the others here – gets rough in a russian on the end of the horse, bending those legs to get over the pommel, but pulls it back together – overall a successful set. 14.450 for 6.0.

#8 – Wiskus – really nice extension on early scissor elements – some hip angle but not extreme – loses his leg shape on a Magyar with a separation and a bend at the knees but works it out – 12.900 for 5.0

Mikulak – 14.450
Bower – 14.000
Modi – 13.950
Moldauer – 13.700
Van Wicklen – 13.100
Wiskus – 12.900
Whittenburg – 12.700
Howard – 12.300

Still Bower who’s having the best day so far. Modi also did what he needed to do on horse, which can be an important event for his argument.


#1 Whittenburg – he didn’t make his case on floor today, so he needs big routines in the next two rotations. there’s a lot of shouting “show it off” and he is – extremely secure maltese work, including his Maltese raise to planche – double double layout dismount and stuck. Very good. 14.550 with 6.1

#2 Bower – smooth Maltese and cross positions – a little hitch in his front pikes but swings through it – double double tucked with a step back. This is not a critical event for him, but no large issues there. Didn’t go for his more difficult routine. 13.050 with 5.0.

#3 – Moldauer – clean body position – too quick in some of these holds, like a straddle planche toward the end where he was hesitating and shaking, his opening maltese position is a bit high – double double tuck dismount and absorbs the stick. Just 13.150 for a 5.4. Readjusted to 13.450, which makes a little more sense to me? I mean it was clean.

#4 – Howard – super comfortable on his strength holds and crisp positions – a couple handstands have been funky, a little short and arch – nearly sticks dismount, one foot slide adjustment. Huge 14.700 for a 6.2.

If Moldauer keeps getting scores like that on rings, the US is going to need two of the remaining trio to deliver rings. Well, as long as Moldauer is on the team…

#5 – Modi – pull up to L cross to maltese is good – really struggles in subsequent maltese, shaking all around – tucks and pikes into cross – L sit is good – double double tucked, small hop forward. 13.900 for 5.9.

#6 – Mikulak – good maltese position – only breaks two forehead arteries when holding it – double front tuck to cross – good secure handstands – nice open on his double double tuck dismount but results in a hop. Still a strong routine. 14.150 for 5.4

#7 – Wiskus – hits his requisite strength holds – they’re a bit more trouble for him than some of the others, but nothing major, just a few more hernias – a little lowering in a straddle planche – pretty solid handstand positions – 1.5-twisting double tuck, stuck landing, the highlight of the routine. 13.900 for 5.3. Good score for him.

#8 – Van Wicklen – maltese to immediate cross, really smooth – droops too low on front pike into cross – arches a handstand – tucks and pikes into straddle sit – 1.5-twisting double tuck, leans to hold the stick. 13.550 for 5.4

Howard – 14.700
Whittenburg – 14.550
Mikulak – 14.150
Modi – 13.900
Wiskus – 13.900
Van Wicklen – 13.550
Moldauer – 13.450
Bower – 13.050

That margin is going to make Howard and Whittenburg’s arguments more compelling. Modi also doing what he needs to do on these last couple events to fill that “I may not be a top 3 score but you can use me here” role.


#1 – Bower – Kas 1.5 – nearly able to hold the stick but ends up with just a little hop. Still clean. 14.400

They have to barricade the wall with mats so no one dies.

#2 – Moldauer – Kas 1.5 – a pretty big lunge to the side and out of the area this time. Will get points for form but that’s a larger landing error. 14.400 still, with the 0.1 ND.

#3 – Howard – stuck landing on his double front. Not a ton of distance, but great control on the landing. 14.700 [I love that I copy pasted Kas 1.5 into this because obviously]

#4 – Modi – Kas 1.5 with a bound forward – medium sized. 14.250

#5 – Mikulak – Kas 1.5 – fairly large bound forward on his 1.5, good direction. 14.400

#6 – Wiskus – Kas 1.5 – smaller hop forward on his, nice distance as well, solid vault. 14.500

#7 – Van Wicklen – Dragulescu – hit vault. Hop back and chest well down, but it’s difficulty the US needs and it looked comfortable enough for him to land. 14.700

Van Wicklen VT 2 – Kas 1.5, landed a little short with a hop back. Another 14.700 is very high for that second vault.

#8 Whittenburg – Double front, short with a lunge back – he needed more difficulty here but it’s coming up too quickly for him probably. That one didn’t help his case so much. 14.100

Van Wicklen – 14.700
Howard – 14.700
Wiskus – 14.500
Mikulak – 14.400
Moldauer – 14.400
Bower – 14.400
Modi – 14.250
Whittenburg – 14.100

The cool thing about vault is that all vaults are the same, apparently. Van Wicklen hitting his vault was important. Whittenburg placing last on vault was similarly important, just in the other direction. That’s pretty much what we learned there.


#1 Moldauer – super clean handstands of course….until that total arch on a peach that was quite uncharacteristic and happened as I was typing – Diam is nice – tuck 1/2 to arms, really solid – double front 1/2 out, and sticks it 14.150 for a 5.9.

He’s at risk of not finishing that well in the AA today. But, I mean, it’s Yul…

#2 Howard – Annnnnd we have our first fall of the day. Attempting what looked like a peach to one, couldn’t get his hand over the rail and had to come off. He’s struggling on some handstands in addition – nice stuck double front. 12.500 and 5.7

#3 Modi – peach – “legs but good overall” is the theme – Bhavsar – Tippelt, solidly up to handstand, just a little angle – Diam with a walk and a fairly large arch – bounce back on double tuck full dismount. 14.250 for 6.1. Ahead of Moldauer by .3 going to HB.

#4 Mikulak – healy, smoothly done – struggle on peach 1/2, loses some body shape and a hand readjustment – the rest is glorious as you would expect – double front 1/2 out and stuck. Will still be a good number. “Just” 14.900 and 6.3 D.

Raised to 15.000 and a 6.4 D.

It’s peak USAG that the news of Dennis McIntyre resigning as VP of the men’s program is coming…right now, during selection competition.

#5 Wiskus – front toss to hs – healy, nice handstand – tuck 1/2, just a big sluggish – diam, a hair short of hs – great height on front straddle – bhavsar, hit – tippelt, clean handstand – double front, large lunge. 14.300 for 6.0. That’s #2 so far on the event, and he needed that.

#6 Van Wicklen – double back to arms, very strong – peach half with a little pause – front straddle, solid – double pike, stuck…ish? Got through without issue, so he’s having a pretty solid day, though an important event for him is still to come. 14.050 with 5.7

#7 Whittenburg – he’s a little hesitant getting up to a couple hs, though his peach 1/2 was good – double back to arms strong – high tuck 1/2 and front straddle – double front 1/2, short with a hop. 14.050 with 6.2

#8 Bower – a little sluggish on first peach to hs but otherwise this looks clean – really strong hs finish position on a diam – front straddle caught well – stutz a bit short of handstand and rushed out – double pike, hop back. 13.600 with 5.4.

That drops Bower to 5th AA. Modi currently 2nd, then Moldauer, then Wiskus.

Mikulak – 15.000
Wiskus – 14.300
Modi – 14.250
Moldauer – 14.150
Whittenburg – 14.050
Van Wicklen – 14.050
Bower – 13.600
Howard – 12.500

Big opportunity for Modi to finish 2nd AA today, which would help his argument. But HB.


#1 Howard – tak 1/1, late but not terribly so – 1/2 is quite late though – layout tkatchev is nice – tkatchev – tkatchev 1/2 – DLO 1/1 and stuck. Not a showcase event for him but he did a hit. 13.200 and 5.0

#2 Modi – Yam, just a bit close – layout tkatchev to tkatchev 1/2, good – tak 1/2, legs but good vertical position – tkatchev – lay tkatchev 1/2 – tak – endo – double double layout, small hop back. Good one for him. 13.800 and 6.0.

#3 Mikulak – Cassina, good – Kolman, same – layout tkatchev – tkatchev to tkatchev 1/2, very smoothly swung out of – tak 1/2, pretty solid finish – double double layout, small slide back. 6 hits for Sam again. Where are we? 14.900 and 6.1

#4 Wiskus – Cassina with both hands – and also some crazy legs – Kolman hit – Kovacs – he has Epke legs on those releases but he hit them – tak 1/2, fairly late with some knee bend going in – DLO 1/1, sticks it. 13.650 and 5.6.

#5 Van Wicklen – Yam, hit – Kolman caught with crazylegs – layout tkatchev – tkatchev to tkatchev 1/2, hit – ZLM – tak 1/2, late – DLO 1/1, absorbs the stick. 13.500 and 5.6. Not a “you’re going for HB” score, but also his vault…

#6 Whittenburg – tak 1/2 was excellent – “show it off, feel that bar” – oof goes wrong way on hs and readjusts – attempts layout tkatchev 1/2 and catches with one arm, somehow keeps going and swings through but a major deduction – Yam 1/2 is caught – Yam – DLO double, stuck. 12.050 and 5.0

#7 Bower – Yam – Kovacs, nicely done – tkatchev layout – tkatchev, just a bit close – tak 1/1 extremely late – tak 1/2 a bit closer – DLO 1/1, small hop back. 13.150 and 5.1

Sam talking through Allan’s routine was sure an auditory experience.

Moldauer – Yam, a little low – tak 1/1, quite late because tak 1/1 – nice quick hop full – took out all release elements here – DLO 1/1 and basically holds the landing. Damn, he looks like he’s hurting so intensely. 13.150 and 5.1

Mikulak – 14.900
Modi – 13.800
Wiskus – 13.650
Van Wicklen – 13.500
Howard – 13.200
Bower -13.150
Moldauer – 13.150
Whittenburg – 12.050

Mikulak – 87.350
Modi – 83.600
Wiskus – 83.000
Moldauer – 82.650
Van Wicklen – 82.550
Bower – 82.300
Howard – 81.050
Whittenburg – 80.450



Based on today’s scores only, your highest-scoring team in 3-count would be Mikulak, Bower, Modi, Wiskus, Howard.

Now, Moldauer was obviously not looking at 100%, and he’s Yul, so giving him a pass and putting him on the team would seem reasonable. Very interesting that Van Wicklen wouldn’t be on the high-scoring team either. He didn’t get the HB score, and his vault tied Howard’s.

I’m not sure I buy this as anything close to a final decision, just putting it out there.

I do think Modi helped his case. On a day like this, when things don’t really go according to plan for some pre-camp favorites like Moldauer and Van Wicklen, the guy who’s a close possibility on a lot of events like Modi ends up looking good.

To Saturday!

16 thoughts on “US Men’s Selection – Day 1 Live Blog”

  1. According to Mark Willams Twitter, Yul has been sick all week and was out of training Monday and Tuesday.

    1. Thank goodness there’s an explanation for his performance. It was subpar across almost all 6 events.

    2. Poor guy. He looked like he was really hurting today (note how he gingerly grabs his back after saluting on pretty much every event). I hope it’s just a passing thing and he’ll be back at it soon—and that he doesn’t get injured pushing for worlds before he’s 100%.

  2. Howard’s vault score seemed a bit high. Yes, he stuck it cold and form in the air was great, but his distance and height seemed quite poor to me. I was expecting a score around 14.3/14.4.

    I don’t even know what to look for in men’s vault anymore…

    1. We really need instant replay for vault judging. Trying to judge in real time is just too hard with the complexity and speed of today’s vaults.

  3. After this first round, I don’t see Whittenburg recovering. He’s been in comeback mode for too long not to be at a higher and more consistent level.

    Wiskus and Modi made very compelling cases for themselves as solid 3rd scores on most events.

    Howard also stood out with his awesome rings set and solid vault.

    Bower’s floor and pommel horse were strong and of course he’s usable on vault (as is everyone but Whittenburg), but I’d hesitate to put him on rings, p-bars, or high bar.

    If I had to pick today, I’d go Mikulak, Moldauer, Wiskus, Modi, and Howard. However, Saturday will be very telling.

    1. I think you’re right about Donnell 🙁
      I don’t want to write him off for Tokyo because I still hope he’ll get there (Rio was such a bummer) and he really does have more talent than most of the US team. But I don’t see how he could possibly redeem himself enough in a day to get sent to Stuttgart.

      I wouldn’t put Bower on a team. The US can only get a team medal if they’re incredible and someone else sucks. So IMO might as well put together a team that at least has “incredible” potential even if it’s a less consistent team. The guy with low D scores and reliable hits doesn’t belong there (unless, of course, you’re taking an approach that prioritizes fairness to the athletes).

      caveat: I know very little about MAG so definitely ready to be corrected.

      1. I don’t object to the Take A Different Angle approach like that if they feel they’re unlikely to win a team medal. I understand it and it has some positives. But I’d still rather see them put together the best “Team Effort” configuration that’s possible. For one, because 5th or 6th best team in the world is still something to proud of. We can still cheer them on and be proud of their performance even if they don’t make the team medal stand. It’s just a piece of metal anyway. Plus, we do want to stay in the top 5 or 6 teams, still be in that group as a country.
        I’d rather think of consistently winning men’s team medals as a slightly longer-term goal. Where we put up our best, most consistent higher scoring team, even if that’s only likely to place 5th if they hit. If the USA men just got used to hitting consistently for a few worlds, then they might next attempt to increase their difficulty and add it to a familiar consistency and confidence, and in the long run be more equipped to regularly challenge for a medal. So take it step by step. I don’t need a medal from them this year, but I’d be really proud of 5th or 6th if they all hit to the max of their current ability.

      2. “For one, because 5th or 6th best team in the world is still something to proud of. We can still cheer them on and be proud of their performance even if they don’t make the team medal stand. It’s just a piece of metal anyway.”

        That’s true! I think US WAG’s success has made me too focused on winning. Making event finals or being in the top 10 or putting pressure on other teams or getting one of the AA spots for your country – these are all (competitive) achievements too.

  4. I’d Mikulak, Moldauer, Modi, and Howard, Wiskus.

    (Mikulak on all)
    PH- modi, moldauer
    R- howard, ??
    VT- moldauer, Howard
    FX- moldauer, Wiskus
    PB- modi, Wiskus
    HB- modi, Wiskus

    I see Whittenburg and Wiskus as filling similar roles on PB with HB/FX/VT as options but Whittenburg isn’t ready yet. He’d get crushed on form. If he’s back by the olympics though, he and Wiskus will be battling it out because of his rings score alone.

  5. Worlds is literally in 4 weeks.
    I follow MAG closely and have to say that Yul’s scores aren’t much different than Championships, he’s interchangeable with a few configurations as is. He needs to take a break and get better for Tokyo. Donnell should do the same and work on execution. Which really only leaves one other person off the team — probably Colin.

    In my opinion it should be:
    Sam (AA), Akash, Shane, Allan, Trevor with Yul as alternate. No one but Sam has medal potential at worlds (AA & HB), the team will be qualified for Olympics here with any setup and score 5th-8th.

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