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Mikulak Wins Trials, Olympic Team Named
(2 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

ST. LOUIS—In a decision that surprised many, the U.S. men's Olympic team was announced 10 minutes after the conclusion of the trials: Chris Brooks, Jake Dalton, Sam Mikulak, Alex Naddour and John Orozco. The most shocking omission might have been Donnell Whittenburg, who many thought was a lock based on his strong floor, rings, vault and parallel bars. Also left off despite his strong performance in St. Louis was 2012 Olympian Danell Leyva.

"I can't believe it," said Orozco, who rooms with Whittenburg at the USOTC in Colorado Springs. He said he didn't see him after the team was named, and didn't know what he will say when he sees him. "I haven't thought that far."

Alex Naddour was sobbing as he met with reporters.

"I'm in shock right now," he said.

Mikulak, as expected, was as upbeat as ever.

"It'll be a while before I get this smile off my face," he said. He was asked if the trials are more nerve-wracking than the Olympics, since he had experienced both in 2012? "I agree. There's so much pressure to make the team. A huge pressure is off our shoulders."

Mikulak said it was difficult waiting in a room with the other athletes while the selection committee made its decision. "You could pretty much hear everybody's heart beating."

Brooks might have been the people's favorite, since he never missed a routine. He still had his doubts, however.

"In the back of my mind I was thinking, 'Did I do enough?'" Brooks also has been the alternate before. "I've been there; it's hard, it's tough."

Alternates are still to be named.

Mikulak had mistakes on his first and last events but still managed to stay atop a nervous but impressive field at the Olympic Trials. His 362.75 was well clear of runner-up Brooks (358.075), who had another solid effort. Since Hartford, Brooks hit 24 routines without a major break.

Dalton placed third with 356.525, and Whittenburg climbed to fourth (355.525). Yul Moldauer was fifth (354.425) and Akash Modi sixth (354.30).

Leyva and Orozco had strong efforts, especially on parallel bars and high bar. One of them would not make it, and Leyva drew the short straw.

Naddour also had an excellent competition, especially on pommels, where Team USA needs the most help. In St. Louis he showed his consistency with a 15.65 and 15.675, easily the top scores on one of the hardest events.

Notes

Rotation 1

Donothan Bailey hit a smooth routine on pommels (15.15).

Jake Dalton vaulted a high Lopez with one big step (15.20).

Paul Ruggeri missed his Kolman on high bar, a mistake that won't help any gymnast on the bubble. To his credit, he repeated the skill and stuck his double-double dismount.

Danell Leyva hit pommels, the one event the team could use him on besides p-bars and high bar (14.35)

Steven Legendre sat down his Tsukahara-double pike.

Donnell Whittenburg hit what may have been his best high bar set ever under the circumstances. He stuck his layout double-double too (14.80).

Akash Modi with a 14.90 on pommels

Marvin Kimble hit a difficult pommel horse set (15.425).

Sam Mikulak caught his Cassina and then missed his Kolman. Looked like he was too amped up and swinging too fast. He worked much slower when he remounted and everything was perfect, including a stuck dismount (14.35).

John Orozco hit a strong high bar routine and stuck his dismount. His half-Takemoto to full-twisting Tkatchev is the routine highlight (15.575).

Chris Brooks survived pommel horse, which is all he probably wanted from the event (13.70).

Rotation 1

Alex Naddour did a solid floor routine, ending with a tucked full-out

Dalton hit a clean routine on p-bars, the event that hurt him the first day (15.10).

Ruggeri looking for revenge on floor and getting it (15.20).

Leyva steady on rings, adding a Guczoghy to shoot hand and double-double dismount

Whittenburg a little off on his floor mount; stuck his piked half-half dismount. Strong set (15.325).

Mikulak perfect on his 2.5 twist to double front mount. Huge hop to the side on his triple twist dismount was really the only error, but it was a 0.5 mistake (15.40).

Eddie Penev mounted floor with a clean triple-double (15.45).

Brooks steady on rings and stuck his half-in full-out (14.875).

CJ Maestas in his element on rings Azarian to Maltese, press planche mount. Stuck his dismount (15.60).

Rotation 3

Leyva hit another strong Kasamatsu-1.5 (14.95).

Whittenburg swung through pommel but fell to the wrong side on his handstand dismount (13.325).

Yul Moldauer got the crowd going on high bar

Mikulak hit a strong pommel horse set with only one leg separation. He really swings with an extended body (15.20).

Dalton hit high bar for 15.925, 6.3 D-score.

Orozco swung through pommels in complete control, but it wasn't the same routine he attempted in Hartford (14.825, 6.1 D-score)

Brooks vaulted a double front with one hop forward (15.00).

Naddour hit the pommel horse set the team could use in Rio (15.675, 6.8 D-score). Would be surprised if he doesn't make the team.

Rotation 4

Strong floor set from Moldauer (15.075).

Whittenburg hit another strong rings set; took a step on his layout double-double (15.40)

Modi with a huge Bhavsar on p-bars and a tucked full-out dismount (15.45).

Mikulak not convincing with his Maltese on rings, but he nailed his tucked double-double like a dart (14.925).

Dalton stuck his layout Arabian double front as well as his whip to piked Arabian double. Stuck his triple twist dismount. No landing deductions. That routine could medal in Rio (15.825)

Orozco did his best rings set since Hartford; 14.775 seems low.

Brooks saved a peach to one bar that wanted to fall outside the bars. It's his biggest mistake since Hartford. Probably a 0.5 error (15.175).

Naddour strong in his Malteses and stuck his full-twisting double layout off rings (15.275).

Legendre with strong floor set (15.55).

Bailey hit well on p-bars, celebrating with fist pumps (14.90).

Leyva hit parallel bars. It wasn't his best, but it was pretty good, and he stuck his double front (15.60).

Rotation 5

Dalton slipped past Brooks for second but has to hit pommels while Brooks is on his strength, high bar. Dalton hit well, but his start value is lacking (13.075, 5.0 D-score)

Mikulak vaulted a Lopez and needed only a hop (15.35).

Brooks did a great combo to open (Takemoto, Yamawaki, Moznik). Everything else was clean and he stuck his layout double-double (15.675). He is in second again, 2.0 ahead of Dalton.

Naddour tried his Tsuk-double pike and pretty much stuck it. It's not that high but it's worth a 6.0 (15.325).

Maestas got the crowd amped up with his wild style on high bar.

Whittenburg did perhaps his best Dragulescu ever in competition (15325). He went for the Kasamatsu-back tuck and landed low, but on balance. He seemed to smile as he stood up to present himself.

Leyva nailed high with just a hop on his dismount. His layout Kovacs and Kolman showed the most amplitude of any gymnast in the field (15.675).

Leyva was a tough act to follow for Modi, and he missed one skill early but covered OK.

Rotation 6

Brooks finished on floor, not his best event, but hit well and gave a wave and melted into hugs from coaches, close friend Jonathan Horton and others (14.625).

Orozco performed a difficult routine, very clean, and stuck his double pike. Great set (15.45)

Dalton was strong on rings (15.075).

Leyva hit floor but stepped out of bounds on his double layout. Overall, another great meet for him in St. Louis (14.25).

Whittenburg absolutely nailed p-bars with great amplitude, if not form, and stuck his barani-out (15.475).

Mikulak began well on p-bars until he hit his feet on the ground on his Bhavsar. He did stick his barani-out forever (15.375).

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