The 2018 U.S. Gymnastics Championships kicked off today in Boston, headlined by the men’s preliminary competition. It also serves as step one in the process to earn a berth on the 2018 World Championship team. Here are eight newsworthy notes from today’s competition:

Feature Photo by Lloyd Smith

Mikulak Back in the Mix

Sidelined from the all-around last year as he recovered from Achilles surgery (limited to just pommel horse and high bar in 2017), Sam Mikulak made his return to the nationals floor to vie for his fifth all-around title. Though not full speed (Mikulak suffered a tweak to his back recently), he proved that another title is certainly well within reach. With stylish execution combined with high D-score sets, Mikulak rose to the top of the field, despite two falls on the day (pommel horse and high bar). Not completely satisfied with his day, Mikulak says he has more to offer and is eager to prove that in finals.

Leading Contenders

Mikulak, 2018 American Cup Champion Yul Moldauer (University of Oklahoma), 2016 Olympic alternate Akash Modi (Stanford) and 2017 U.S. all-around silver medalist Allan Bower (University of Oklahoma) were the pre-meet favorites for the title and all finished within the top 6 tonight, putting themselves in position to contend for the podium in finals on Saturday.

Bower Bounce

Allan Bower was left off of last year’s Worlds team despite a silver medal finish in the all-around at the 2017 U.S. Championships. His argument for this year’s team may be undeniable. During prelims, he proved, once again, that he has the ability to delivery consistently for Team USA time after time.

Notable Numbers

Thirty-three senior men and 41 junior men were slated on today’s roster, a total of 74 (compared to 48 total for the women).

Boomer Sooner

Starting on floor, the University of Oklahoma filled an entire rotation group with Boomer pride! Six men total. Add to this two more in the junior session from the afternoon… and eight is the lucky number in 2018!

Difficulty Dash

Overall leader Mikulak and second place Modi both posted D-score totals of 34.8. Bower was nearly two points behind at a 32.9 but managed a top 3 finish with strong execution and consistency throughout.

Fifteen Club

We saw two scores above 15 today, shockingly both on the nemesis event for Team USA: pommel horse. Alec Yoder (Ohio State) put up a huge 15.15, and Steve Nedoroscik (Penn State) was close behind with a 15.1.

Junior Jam

The junior men’s competition preceded the senior event and a rising crop of stars showed a strong foundation for the future of Team USA. A talented pipeline could bode well for the future of Team USA.

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D-Score Breakdown:

Mikulak

Rings = 5.7

Vault = 5.2

Parallel Bars = 6.1

High Bar = 6.1

Floor Exercise = 5.7

Pommel Horse = 6.0

Total = 34.8

Modi

Rings = 5.2

Vault = 6.2

Parallel Bars = 6.0

High Bar = 5.9

Floor Exercise = 6.1

Pommel Horse = 5.4

Total = 34.8

Bower

Rings = 5.6

Vault = 6.1

Parallel Bars = 5.5

High Bar = 5.2

Floor Exercise = 5.6

Pommel Horse = 4.9

Total = 32.9

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