MAG expert Kensley Behel was able to talk to some of the members of the Men’s Performance Committee to bring you a comprehensive understanding of how MAG gymnasts can qualify to the U.S. Championships this year.
In April of this year, the Men’s Performance Committee (MPC) agreed to increase the number of gymnasts competing at nationals from 30 seniors to 36 seniors with the additional number of gymnasts coming from the national qualifier held from July 12 – July 15 at the Olympic Training Center. However, while earning a spot to compete at nationals will be slightly easier, earning a spot on the national team is now more competitive as the MPC has limited the number of spots to only 12.
Current national team members have already qualified directly to nationals, but may choose to compete at the qualifier if they would like to use it as a warm-up meet.
- Donothan Bailey, USOTC*
- Allan Bower, University of Oklahoma
- Marvin Kimble, Salto Gymnastics Center
- Sean Melton, Ohio State University
- Sam Mikulak, USOTC
- Akash Modi, Stanford University
- Yul Moldauer, University of Oklahoma
- Eddie Penev, USOTC*
- Donnell Whittenburg, USOTC*
- Shane Wiskus, University Of Minnesota
- Alec Yoder, Ohio State University
*Will compete at the qualifier.
Additionally, event winners and the top six all-arounders at NCAA Championships not already pre-qualified have all earned spots at nationals. For Example, Yul Moldauer won the all-around at NCAA Championships, but he is already pre-qualified as a member of the national team, so the gymnast ranked seventh will get his NCAA qualification spot.
According to the men’s qualification documents, there was a discrepancy in who was allowed to directly qualify to nationals from the NCAA Championships from the all-around competition. Was it the top six of the top eight gymnasts that one document specified, or was it the top five out of the top 12 gymnasts from the NCAA Championships as a second document specified?
I reached out to Steve Legendre, the athlete rep, to let him know about the discrepancy in the documentation. He immediately took the issue to the MPC, as well as to the V.P. of Communications at USA Gymnastics, who will honor the documentation that would allow for the most gymnasts to directly qualify to the U.S. Championships. This is the type of leadership that will transform USA Gymnastics. We need honest men and women who will accept responsibility for mistakes given and do everything in their power to make it right.
Based on those qualifications procedures and an updated vote by the MPC, the following gymnasts have qualified to U.S. Championships.
From Event Finals
- Alex Diab, University of Illinois (still rings)
- Stephen Nedoroscik, Penn State University (pommel horse)
Note: Those who qualified to nationals from event finals are able to compete as many events as they wish in Boston.
From the All-Around
- Levi Anderson, University of Oklahoma
- Bobby Baker, University of Illinois
- Cameron Bock, University of Michigan
- Tristan Duran, University of Minnesota
- Bennett Huang, University of Iowa
- Robert Neff, Stanford University
19 gymnasts have already pre-qualified to nationals as team members (11) or through NCAA Championships (8), leaving room for 17 more gymnasts to qualify via the qualifier or by petition to compete at nationals.
The rules to compete at this week’s qualifier are simple — you must be at least 18 years old in 2018, you must be a United States citizen, and you must be able to pay the $125 entry fee.
It is important to note that current junior national team members that age out of the junior division will need to attend the qualifier as they do not automatically earn a spot at nationals.
How are junior and senior gymnasts determined?
To compete at the U.S. Championships in the junior division, the MPC utilizes the Junior Olympic Program age specification of May 31. Mr. McIntire, the Vice President of the Men’s Program, has clarified that this means anyone who turns 19 after May 31 will still be eligible to compete in the junior division. To compete in the senior division, the MPC utilizes the FIG guidelines meaning a gymnast must be 18 years of age or older by December 31, 2018.
Due to the differences in the systems, some gymnasts are able to compete in both divisions and the athlete himself is given the choice in which division he wishes to compete should he qualify to the senior division.
Here’s where it gets a little bit tricky. If the gymnast is age-eligible for the junior division, but opts to compete in the senior division, he is not eligible to be automatically selected for the junior national team based on all-around placement. They are, however, eligible to be selected for one of three nominative positions on the junior national team.
Unlike previous years, once the junior gymnast opts to compete in the junior division, he must stay in that division for the duration of the championships. The purpose of this change is to now focus on the Junior World Championships in 2019.
The national championships serves a wider purpose than just selecting the national team. Gymnasts for the Youth Olympic Games and the World Championships will be selected from this competition. The selection process for the YOG can be found here.
Good luck to all the gymnasts competing! We wish you all a safe competition.
Article by Kensley Behel
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