Again with the men!
Amidst the hoopla of next week, with all the competitions and the podium trainings and the women’s things to care about, I’m deeply concerned that I may forget to preview the men’s Olympic Trials. Deeply. AND THEN WHAT WOULD WE DO?!?!? So, just to be safe, I’m doing it now.
It is the Olympic Trials, after all. And as we know, competitions of this magnitude cannot officially begin without making a ranked and numbered list of items most pertinent to the outcome and to our lives. It’s what separates us from the animals.
So, here’s what I’ll be watching at next week’s Man Trials.
1. Everyone except Sam Mikulak
I mean, sure. For fun, obviously. But Sam is pretty…much the least important part of the Olympic Trials. He’s going to Rio. It’s happening. Mikulak is the US’s least pipe-dreamy shot at getting somewhere close to an all-around medal, and the team may or may not need him on all six events in the team final (more on that later).
He could fall a crapload of times at Trials, and that wouldn’t change his status, nor would it matter that much in the long run because his Trials performance won’t be at all indicative of how he’ll fare at the Olympics, either way. All of us who are not warlocks have long since given up trying to predict when Darth Sam will decide to rear his ugly head.
So, to the others.
2. Donnell Whittenburg — Lock or Likely?
Heading into nationals, I think most of us viewed Mikulak and Whittenburg as close-ish to lock status with everyone else fighting for the remaining three spots. Then something happened on the second day of nationals, namely Whittenburg going to Womp Town via the Splatty Express. Suddenly, the highest-possible team score coming out of nationals belonged to the Mikulak, Dalton, Brooks, Ruggeri, Naddour quintet, leaving out Whittenburg and casting at least some doubt on his team status by opening the question of whether he and Dalton ultimately cancel each other out too much.
Whittenburg is supposed to destroy the world on vault and floor, but at nationals, even his hits were a couple tenths behind Dalton, Ruggeri, and sometimes Mikulak, making him look more like a 1-2 eventer than the 4-eventer the team needs him to be. Now, I still think Whittenburg erases that doubt with a hit meet and ultimately will make the team because he has been part of the In Club this whole quad and the men’s selection committee only punishes members of the In Club for poor performances when they’re Danell Leyva. But, there are more questions around him now than there should be, along with a somewhat compelling argument for excluding him largely because of…
3. Beam of starlight, Paul Ruggeri
To my mind, no development at nationals complicated the team selection picture more than Paul Ruggeri’s top-three placement on three events. Mwahahaha. Picking a team is so much easier if Paul Ruggeri doesn’t do well (there are only so many NO ME GUSTA pommel horse routines you can put on one team), but if he continues TFing on vault, floor, and high bar, how do you say no to that? Continue reading Men’s Olympic Trials Preview