Isaiah Drake, Khoi Young, Asher Hong, and Ian Lasic-Ellis
The Japanese men defeated the team from the United States by one point at this year’s RD761 Invitational, a junior competition held in Katy, Texas.
Motomu Yoshida led the Japanese program with his gold medal-winning all-around performance, getting a 79.100 to top the podium while his teammate Reo Kurata also performed well for the bronze with a 78.900.
The team also included Kazuma Kotoge, Azusa Emata, and Kanta Tazumi, and together, Japan also brought home eight apparatus medals, including three golds (Emata on floor, Kurata on pommels, and Kotoge on high bar).
Though the U.S. counted several mistakes from some top competitors, the team still did well to come close to catching Japan. Khoi Young had an excellent day on floor, pommels, rings, and vault to win the all-around silver with a 78.950, while Isaiah Drake was also mostly solid to finish fourth with a 78.050.
Asher Hong and Ian Lasic-Ellis also represented the U.S. here, though Hong had falls on pommels that held him back to 10th place with a 75.300, while Lasic-Ellis struggled on a few events, finishing 15th with a 73.950. Young came back in finals to win silver medals on floor and pommels as well as the bronze on vault with a fall on his first attempt, while Lasic-Ellis won gold on rings, Drake won gold on p-bars, and Drake and Hong picked up the silver and bronze medals, respectively, on high bar.
Though the Japanese and U.S. teams were clearly the frontrunners here, the rest of the teams all had some standout competitors, and there was quite the fight for bronze between France and Brazil, with France ultimately snagging the medal thanks to a mostly consistent day.
Leo Saladino, a member of last year’s junior world championships team, had the highest finish for the French team, tying for fourth place with a 78.050 in addition to winning the silver on rings and bronze on pommels. The team also included Arthur Nogier, Tom Minn, and Tom Aghina, with Aghina normally one of the strongest juniors for the country, but he wasn’t able to compete on floor or vault here.
The top draws for Brazil were Yuri Guimarães in eighth with a 76.300 and Diego Paes in 9th with a 75.550, while João Vieira and Gustavol Pereira rounded out the team in 22nd and 24th. In addition to his top all-around finish for Brazil, Guimarães also won the vault title with a 13.325 average.
Nathan Yvars was Canada’s top competitor, finishing 10th with a 75.300 and helping the team to fifth place while Dorian Doan won the bronze on parallel bars, Nicholas Matthews was best for Australia, finishing 14th with a 74.400, and Kacper Ganczarek was Poland’s strongest, finishing 23rd with a 71.850.
In addition to the main U.S. squad, the host country also featured a second team that wasn’t eligible for medals or apparatus finals, but the young competitors were right in the mix among the top teams here, and two of these second-team gymnasts actually outperformed some of the boys on the team, as Kai Uemura finished with a score of 78.050, which would’ve tied for fourth place, while Danila Leykin finished just behind eighth place with a 76.200. Had they been eligible for the team competition, this team would’ve finished in position for the bronze medal, and they also would’ve placed several competitors into the apparatus finals.
Full results for the competition are available here.
Article by Lauren Hopkins