Thanks to USA Gymnastics and their live stream, we were able to watch the 2017 Winter Cup held in Las Vegas, Nevada. At the end of the meet, 15 gymnasts were named to the Senior National Team.
Akash Modi led the first day of the competition, but it was Oklahoma’s Yul Moldauer who won the all-around competition with a two-day score of 171.750. With a truly exceptional showing both days on rings, Moldauer was only one of three gymnasts to score a 15 on any event, a feat he accomplished three times, (both days on rings and in the finals on parallel bars). Those also to reach the 15 mark include Eddie Penev on floor and reigning Olympic bronze medalist, Alex Naddour, on pommel horse
Allan Bower and Donnell Whittenburg rounded out the top four All-Around gymnasts and therefore automatically made the team with the top three podium finished coming from the NCAA programs.
Both competing and alternate Olympic gymnasts were eligible to make the team again should they place in the top 10 on each day of competition. All of them who competed in the finals, (Alex Naddour and Chris Brooks,) retained their spots on the national team.
Only injured athletes were allowed to petition on to the team, so as expected, an injured Sam Mikulak and Jake Dalton were selected to this year’s team. Prior to his injury, Mikulak was selected to represent Team USA internationally at two World Cup events.
Replacing him at the American Cup is 2017 Winter Cup Champion, Yul Moldauer, and joining him for the wild card spot will be Stanford gymnast and 2016 Olympic Alternate, Akash Modi. Bower and Whittenburg were selected for Stuttgart and London respectively.
The additional athletes rounding out this year’s national team based on the point system are Donothan Bailey, Sean Melton, Grant Breckenridge, Eddie Penev, Robert Neff, Hunter Justus, and Kanji Oyama.
What is obvious is the importance of the NCAA program on our National Team program. Only Whittenburg has no ties to NCAA, meaning 93 % of our current national team has grown, developed, and contributed to the exciting sport that is NCAA Men’s Gymnastics. Those schools proudly represented are The University of Oklahoma (7,) Stanford University (4,) University of Michigan (1,) U-C Berkeley (1,) and the Ohio State University (1).
What is less clear is how some of the National Team members were chosen as both Anthony McCallum and Emyre Cole of the University of Michigan totaled 22 points a piece tying Olympian, Chris Brooks, and beating out Kanji Oyama who totaled 18. Oyama was added to the team, McCallum and Cole were not…. What’s more, McCallum won the vault title outright and would seem to be an obvious choice for the National Team, but alas the mystery that is the Men’s Team Point System.
Oyama did outscore both in the All-Around and perhaps there was the justification, but if AA ranking is going to determine team placement, then why bother having a point system at all?
The totaled points can be seen here.
The next elite meet will be the AT&T American Cup held March 4, in Newark, New Jersey! Stay tuned as we keep you updated on all things Men’s Gymnastics.
Article by: Kensley Behel