ANAHEIM, Calif. – Yul Moldauer won the all-around title at the U.S. men’s gymnastics championships Saturday night, overcoming an early bobble on high bars to hold off Oklahoma teammate Allan Bower and all but lock up a spot on the world championship team.
Moldauer posted a two-day total of 171.600, a full point better than Bower and nearly two points clear of 2016 Olympic alternate Donnell Whittenburg. Moldauer, the 2016 NCAA champion, wasn’t quite as crisp in the finals as he was in preliminaries, but it hardly mattered. Shortly after sticking his dismount on parallel bars despite clipping one of them on the way down, Moldauer embraced Sooners coach Mark Williams before celebrating with his teammates.
Akash Modi, the reigning NCAA champion, began the night with the best chance at chasing down Moldauer but ended up fourth thanks to significant form breaks on four of the six events.
Olympic bronze medalist Alex Naddour likely locked up a spot on the six-man world championship team with a 15.250 on pommel horse, his signature event. Whittenburg went through another uneven night but finished with a flourish, posting a 14.850 on still rings and a 15.000 on vault to surge past Modi and onto the all-around podium.
Two-time Olympian Sam Mikulak, recovering from a torn Achilles tendon, finished second on pommel horse and third on high bar to make a compelling case to high performance director Brett McClure that he’s healthy enough to contribute when the worlds begin in Montreal in October.
Moldauer began the year with an impressive win at the American Cup in March. While Modi gained the upper hand at NCAAs, Moldauer returned the favor at nationals. The 20-year-old who is part of the next wave for the U.S. following the retirement of the majority of the core that led the program through the 2012 and 2016 Olympics tied for first on floor exercise and placed second on parallel bars.
Moldauer talked about the need to just focus on the little picture and not the big one after taking a substantial lead in prelims. Maybe, but he appeared jittery during the start of finals. He sailed off the high bar on his first event, scoring a 12.8 that briefly opened the door for the rest of the field. He shut it just as quickly, putting up a 14.950 on floor exercise that equaled the best of the night and put him firmly back in control of the meet.
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