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First Stop, Tampa! 2022 U.S. Championships Senior Men’s Preview

By Ashlee Buhler  with Christy Sandmaier contributing

New stars will emerge, new champions will certainly be crowned, and history will be written as the next generation of Team USA begins their journey toward a lifelong Olympic dream. It all begins in Tampa, Florida at the U.S. Championships!

For the Olympians and World team members of the last quad, the Olympic buzz has calmed and the athletes ready to give things another go have re-focused and re-charged. We’ll look to see a battle between defending U.S. Champion and 2021 World high bar bronze medalist Brody Malone, 2020 Olympian Yul Moldauer, 2022 Winter Cup Champion Vitaliy Guimaraes, 2020 Olympian Shane Wiskus, and newcomer Asher Hong who took gold on rings at 2022 DTB Pokal Team Challenge, for the top spot. In addition, don’t count out Malone’s Stanford teammates Colt Walker, Riley Loos or Khoi Young, or up and coming powerhouse Fred Richard.

The name of the game for the men this year has been about adding difficulty to their routines to start the road to Paris now, rather than relying on testing new upgrades for the first time in an Olympic year. It’s something they’ve been focused on since the moment they stepped off the floor in Tokyo where the team finished fifth. Moldauer, who won the 2017 national All-Around title, says motivation to upgrade routines came from that finish more than anything else. 

“Of course, it was always our dream to get on the podium but being there and seeing what’s going on, it actually helped boost us for the U.S. to know what we need to do to get competitive,” he said. “After the team competition, we all went back to our rooms and got our laptops out and made spreadsheets of routines we hope to have by the next Olympics and how we can get this team to really be competitive again. It was exciting no matter the podium or not and we really took back and put on paper where we needed to be.”

And while we still may see some falls as new skills are tested and the endurance for new routines is built, it will surely be exciting to see the bar once again raised and just who will rise to the occasion as this team comes together. With so much talent on the floor and waiting in the wings and Paris only two years away, Tampa will be another important test for the men, who are set on bringing home team hardware in the very near future.

“All of this together is a team effort. It’s going to be way more fun when you stand on the podium and look left and right and see your teammates there,” Moldauer said. “We all have this greater initiative as a team to do it together.”

We’re here for it. And as they say, Game On.

***

Overall, the lineup for Championships features a roster of Olympic talent, those who didn’t quite make their mark trying for Tokyo, and a refreshing mix of exciting, new faces all of which will make for a thrilling competition in Tampa where there is no clear-cut winner. New stories are about to be written and we’re right here for all of it! 

We break down the field and take a closer look at the athletes we have on our ‘Must Watch’ list for Tampa! 

Brody Malone (Stanford University) 

Hometown/Birthday: 

Aragon, Georgia 

January 7, 2000

Where He Stands Out: Leadership, experience, pure strength and power. Malone really has no weak event, but parallel bars and high bar is where he really shines! Keep your eyes peeled for those sky high release moves on pipe and potential upgrades everywhere! 

Career Highlights: 

  • 2022 NCAA Championships: 1st Team, Pommel Horse & High Bar; 2nd All-Around; 3rd Floor
  • 2021 World Championships: 3rd High Bar
  • 2020 Olympics: All-Around & High Bar Finalist 
  • 2021 U.S. Championships: 1st All-Around & Vault; 2nd Rings & High Bar 

Notable: After a stellar 2021 season and fresh off posting the top score at the 2022 U.S. Classic just a few weeks ago, Malone would love nothing more than to defend his All-Around title in Tampa. In the last decade, only Sam Mikulak has won more than one national title. Last year Malone left no doubt who was in first – could he start a new streak? 

Yul Moldauer (5280 Gymnastics) 

Hometown/Birthday:

Arvada, Colorado  

August 26, 1996

Where He Stands Out: Let’s Gooooo!!! As a sentimental favorite and team leader, Yul has become known for his sticks on the floor but he’s also fantastic on parallel bars – one of the best in the country! Look for upgrades across the floor and especially on high bar for Moldauer as he focuses on raising his difficulty level this year to prepare for Paris in 2024.

Career Highlights: 

  • 2020 Tokyo Olympics: Floor Finalist 
  • 2021 U.S. Championships: 1st Parallel Bars; 2nd All-Around; 3rd Floor & Rings 
  • American Cup Champion (2017-2019) 
  • 2017 World Championships: 3rd on Floor 
  • 2017 U.S. Championships: 1st All-Around & Floor; 2nd Parallel Bars 

Notable: One of the more experienced members on the U.S. men’s side, Moldauer could really make a statement by taking home his second All-Around national title. The last three Championships he has brought home the silver and as his focus shifts to Paris 2024, could 2022 be the year he finally takes back the gold?

Check out our interview with Yul! 

Shane Wiskus (USOPTC) 

Hometown/Birthday:

Minneapolis, Minnesota 

October 1, 1998 

Where He Stands Out: Wiskus has clean execution, finesse and a smooth rhythm on parallel bars and rings, but watch out for his explosive vault and release moves performed with finger-tip control on high bar, too! 

Career Highlights: 

  • 2020 Tokyo Olympics: Team Member  
  • 2021 U.S. Championships: 2nd Parallel Bars
  • 2021 NCAA Championships: 1st Rings & Parallel Bars; 2nd All-Around, Floor & High Bar 

Notable: Last year Wiskus was in 2nd place heading into the final rotation of the U.S. Championships, but dropped to 9th after three scary falls on high bar. In 2022 he will be looking for redemption. After withdrawing from the 2022 Winter Cup due to a knee injury, Wiskus came back roaring with a win at the Pan Am Selection Camp and will be contending for his first U.S. All-Around title in Tampa. 

Asher Hong (Cypress Academy of Gymnastics) 

Hometown/Birthday:

Tomball, Texas 

March 23, 2004 

Where He Stands Out: 2022 Winter Cup vault champion, floor and still rings silver medalist and All-Around and parallel bars bronze medalist, Asher Hong is a star on the rise for Team USA! He’s quickly becoming known for his big vaults (his Kas 2.5 is worth the hype), powerful tumbling on floor and clean rings set. 

Career Highlights: 

  • 2022 DTP Pokal Team Challenge: 1st Team and Rings; 2nd Floor
  • 2022 Winter Cup: 1st Vault; 2nd Floor & Rings; 3rd All-Around & Parallel Bars
  • 2021 Winter Cup Jr: 1st All-Around, Floor, Pommel Horse, Rings & Parallel Bars 

Notable: As the new kid on the block, Asher Hong has the potential to be one of the best All-Around gymnasts in the country thanks to his high difficulty level. When he puts up a solid performance, Hong is a force to be reckoned with not only in Tampa but in international competition. He told us in July he’s ultimately focused on putting up difficulty to compete with the best in the world, and “put down 6 for 6 in Tampa” to win his first U.S. senior All-Around U.S. Championship before heading to Stanford to start his freshman year.

See Breaking Down the Code in our August issue for more on Asher!

Vitaliy Guimares (University of Oklahoma) 

Hometown/Birthday:

Norman, Oklahoma 

May 18, 2000

Where He Stands Out: The stylish Guimares can soar and stick on floor with tremendous form! His high bar work is superb as well! A strong All-Around contender, he relies on top E scores, consistency and finesse in his routines. 

Career Highlights: 

  • 2022 DTB Pokal Cup: 1st Team 
  • 2022 Winter Cup: 1st All-Around 
  • 2022 NCAA Championships: 2nd Team; 3rd Floor

Notable: Vitaliy is a relatively fresh face on the men’s scene, with his Winter Cup win the first major All-Around title of his career. While he doesn’t have the most difficulty in the field, his clean execution could be what carries him to the medal podium.

Check out our interview with Vitaliy! 

Alex Diab (USOPTC) 

Hometown/Birthday:

Colorado Springs, Colorado

April 25, 1997

Where He Stands Out: When it comes to the rings, 2020 Olympic alternate Alex Diab is the master! With superb difficulty, strength and control, Diab qualified for finals on rings in both World Cup events he entered in 2022.

Career Highlights: 

  • 2022 Winter Cup: 1st Rings 
  • 2020 Tokyo Olympics: Alternate 
  • 2021 U.S. Championships: 1st Rings 
  • 2021 Winter Cup: 1st Rings 
  • 2019 U.S Championships: 1st Rings

Notable: While Diab is practically a shoo-in for the rings title, he’s also posted a video training an upgraded vault (handspring double front) which could be medal-worthy in Tampa! 

Khoi Young (Stanford University) 

Hometown/Birthday:

Bowie, Maryland 

December 31, 2002  

Where He Stands Out: Khoi is state of the art on pommel horse, showing great extension and amplitude on his circles. He also vaults a front handspring 2.5 twist with ease! 

Career Highlights: 

  • 2022 DTB Pokal Cup: 1st Team, Pommel Horse & Vault 
  • 2022 NCAA Championships: 1st Team; 2nd Vault 
  • 2022 Winter Cup: 1st Pommel Horse; 2nd All-Around & Vault

Notable: With a second place finish at the Winter Cup and third place finish at the U.S. Classic, Khoi is looking to challenge for his first senior All-Around podium finish at the U.S. Championships as well as contend for some individual titles on vault and pommel horse! 

Riley Loos (Stanford University) 

Hometown/Birthday:

Folsom, California 

October 6, 2000

Where He Stands Out: Loos shows tremendous strength and control on rings and has great potential on floor as well! 

Career Highlights: 

  • 2022 Koper World Challenge Cup: 2nd Floor & Rings
  • 2022 NCAA Championships: 1st Team & Rings 
  • 2021 Winter Cup: 2nd All-Around 

Notable: We appreciate Riley Loos’ creativity and innovation! Last year he debuted two new skills, including a back handspring to planche on floor. The FIG only valued it a B, but we love the originality and difficulty and hope to still see it in competition! 

Colt Walker (Stanford University) 

Hometown/Birthday:

Cedar Park, Texas 

June 25, 2001

Where He Stands Out: Part of the Stanford powerhouse, Walker’s 6.5 D score routine parallel bar routine from the U.S. Classic was the highest in the field, so watch out for him on that event. 

Career Highlights: 

  • 2022 NCAA Championships: 1st Team; 2nd Parallel Bars
  • 2022 Winter Cup: 3rd Vault 
  • 2021 U.S. Championships: 3rd Parallel Bars 

Notable: Keep your eyes on Walker! Fresh off posting the second highest score of the field at the U.S. Classic, he could find himself on the medal podium in Tampa with clean performances across both days of competition. 

Fred Richard (Massachusetts Elite Gymnastics Academy) 

Hometown/Birthday:

Folsom, California 

October 6, 2000

Where He Stands Out: Richard does not have a true weak event, so watch for him across the board! However, he does some of his finest work on high bar and floor! We’ve got our eyes on Richard heading to Paris for sure!

Career Highlights: 

  • 2022 U.S. Classic: 2nd High Bar 
  • 2022 Pan American Championships: 1st Team, All-Around, Floor, Rings, Vault; 2nd Parallel Bars; 3rd Pommel Horse 
  • 2022 Men’s Development Program National Championships: 1st All-Around, Floor, Pommel Horse, Parallel Bars, High Bar; 3rd Rings
  • 2021 U.S. Championships (Junior): 1st All-Around, Floor, Vault, High Bar; 2nd Rings

Notable: Coming off a dominant performance at the DP Championships and Pan American Championships, 2022 is shaping up to be Richard’s best season yet! Can he keep his momentum going in Tampa? 

Donnell Whittenburg  (Salto Gymnastics Center) 

Hometown/Birthday:

Milwaukee, WI

August 18, 1994

Where He Stands Out: At the recent U.S. Classic, Whittenburg scored a massive 16.780 (1.780 bonus) for his full-twisting double tucked Tsukahara – the most difficult vault being done on the U.S. men’s side! 

Career Highlights: 

  • 2021 World Championships: Team Member 
  • 2019 U.S. Championships: 3rd Rings
  • 2017 U.S. Championships: 1st Valut; 3rd All-Around, Rings, & Parallel Bars 
  • 2016 U.S. Championships: 1st Rings 

Notable: Donnell had an impressive performance at the 2022 U.S. Classic, where he put up the 3rd highest All-Around score in a stacked U.S. men’s field. 

Cameron Bock  (University of Michigan) 

Hometown/Birthday:

Ann Arbor. MI

September 18, 1998

Where He Stands Out: Bock has a nice rhythm and great extension on the pommel horse, but also has a parallel bar start value that is among the top group in the U.S.!

Career Highlights: 

  • 2021 Winter Cup: 1st All-Around,  3rd Pommel Horse & Rings
  • 2020 Olympic Alternate 

Notable: After taking some time out to heal a dislocated elbow and torn UCL, Bock showed some upgrades on several events at the U.S. Classic and is on his way back to the top of the field! 

Stephen Nedoroscik  (Penn State University) 

Hometown/Birthday:

Worcester, MA

October 28, 1998

Where He Stands Out: The pommel horse of course! 

Career Highlights: 

  • 2021 World Championships: 1st Pommel Horse 
  • 2021 U.S. Championships: 1st Pommel Horse 
  • 2018 NCAA Championships: 1st Pommel Horse
  • 2017 NCAA Championships: 1st Pommel Horse

Notable: Nedoroscik returned to the competition floor at the U.S. Classic for the first time since his World title last fall, showing an upgraded routine on the pommel horse. Unfortunately he took a fall on his Busnari, however with a 6.5 D-score (1.193 in bonus) we gotta think that’s going to be a huge number when he hits and will put him in a great position to defend his national title! 

*Possible contenders Raydel Gamboa and Fuzzy Benas were injured earlier this year and will not be in Tampa. 2022 NCAA All-Around Champion Paul Juda will also not be in Tampa after an injury sustained in warm up at the U.S. Classic. 

Photos by Lloyd Smith for Inside Gymnastics

For more:

TCT’s Levi Jung-Ruivivar Ready to Shine

Skye Blakely Ready to Soar

U.S. Junior Champ Katelyn Jong Ready For The Jump To The Senior Ranks 

Rising Star Nola Matthews Readies For The Road Ahead 

Joscelyn Roberson – A Star On The Rise 

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