After night one, and the chalk settled, Akash Modi of Stanford University scored 86.3. With that he took the lead over Oklahoma’s Yul Moldauer and Allan Bower, who are currently tied for second with 84.85. Modi was consistent throughout, showing high difficulty and clean routines. If Modi can produce the same type of performance in day 2 it would be hard for him to be caught. Moldauer had a very good meet, with the exception of a fall toward the end of his set on Pommel Horse. He will put some pressure on Modi if he hits 6 for 6. Bower, who also hails from Oklahoma, had a very consistent meet as expected. Allan Bower is one of the most consistent gymnast in all of America, anticipate good numbers throughout the competition tonight. Donnell Wittenburg of the U.S.O.T.C., who is currently 4th place with 84.2, showcased amazing difficulty throughout. A fall on vault for Wittenburg allowed him to be passed in the standings. He is likely to land his vault today and put pressure on the competition for top 3 in the AA. This is a very exciting meet to watch. Sitting in 5th place, also from the U.S.O.T.C., is Donathan Baliey. He is looking very confident in his gymnastics. I foresee him making the jump this year to be considered one of American’s top 6 gymnasts. With no true weak event, Donathan is someone you can plug into a lot of different events in a team competition. In 6th place is Robert Neff, of Stanford University. Neff showed great consistency by hitting all his routines. That positioned him to show the selection committee he is one to consider for the National Team. A bright spot of the competition was youngster from USA Youth Fitness, Brandon Briones age 15 who lead after session one. Briones showcased his skill and ability to hit clean routines to place him in the top 10.
There are others who competed well, and I anticipate being considered for National Team. Sr. Team member out of the University of Oklahoma, Kanji Oyama. He had a decent showing in night one, but will need to do a little more work and hit Pommel Horse to retain his National Team position. Timothy Wang, from Air Force, finished with 3 top ten finishes to demonstrate he is one of the top gymnasts here in Las Vegas. Hunter Justus, from the University of Oklahoma, finished tied for 9th with Oyama. Justus competed well in the first session which generally has much tighter judging. If he can put his vault to his feet and perform like he did in day one, prepare for him to move up in the AA standings.
Rounding out gymnasts to watch in Day 2 of Winter Cup with those that had great showings but did not compete in the AA. Eddie Penev and Chris Brooks, of the U.S.O.T.C., are currently leading. Floor (Penev) and High Bar (Brooks), both performed world class sets. Look forward to them making their push for a spot on this year’s Individual World Team. 2016 Olympic Bronze medalist (Pommel Horse), from USA Youth Fitness, Alex Naddour performed Rings and Pommel Horse to place top 3 in each event. Ohio State gymnasts, Alec Yoder and Sean Melton, also had great day 1 showings. Yoder hit an outstanding Pommel Horse set to give him the lead. Anthony McCallum, from the University of Michigan, competed a monstrous Tsuk Double Pike to lead vault after day one. Also, the ole’ veteran Steve Legendre, alumni and Assistant coach at Oklahoma, stuck a huge handspring double front. He worked through a very difficult floor routine to keep himself in consideration.
Unfortunately, 3x National Champion, Sam Mikulak, went down with an Achilles injury on the first event. Also, Jake Dalton was unable to perform after sustaining an injury in warm-ups on Vault. I anticipate day 2 to be great competition. Expect some shuffling close to the top of the standings with so many gymnasts in contention for National Team spots. This will be a very tough decision for the Selection Committee. The injuries to top athletes, especially those from the Olympic Team shook up the standings. For contention of a National Team spot the gymnasts would need to score National Team Point each day. There’s quite some movement of our leader board, so hopefully things will seem clearer once the chalk settles after day two of Winter Cup.