Posted on 17 February 2017 by admin
Stanford senior and 2016 Olympic Alternate Akash Modi (86.30) practically led from start to finish to end up the Day 1 leader at the 2017 Winter Cup Challenge. Modi had top-10 finishes on all six events, including the day’s best score on PB (14.85). He was able to build up a decent-sized lead to fend off a late charge by Oklahoma’s Allan Bower (84.85) and Yul Moldauer (84.85). It was reminiscent of last April’s NCAA Championships, with three of last season’s all-around finishers battling it out again at Winter Cup. How fitting. The new Quad is ushering in new talent for Tokyo 2020, and these guys aren’t wasting any time.
2016 Olympic Alternate Donnell Whittenburg was in the running the entire meet, but a stumble on VT cost him a shot at the lead. Whittenburg had four top-5 placements to leave himself in solid contention for the AA title. Moldauer, the rising juggernaut, had top-2 scores on four events, including his Day 1-leading score on SR (15.10). Bower was again consistent, garnering top-10 scores on all six events. I would hate to be on the Nissen-Emery committee, having to choose between Modi and Bower… Give it to both of ’em!
Cal grad Donothan Bailey had an outstanding meet, tallying four top-10 scores and earning the 5th position (83.55). Bailey looked like he’s been working very hard at the OTC. Stanford’s Robert Neff is a stealthy phenomenon. Neff put up two top-10 scores to end up in 6th (82.45). Rounding out the top 10 were Air Force’s Timmy Wang (7th-81.05), Brandon Briones (8th-80.75) and tied for 9th were Hunter Justus and Kanji Oyama (80.70). Briones was the only Junior to crack the top 10, and was the leading scorer in Session 1. A total of six Juniors advanced to the Finals.
Several big names advanced to the Finals, based on earning enough points despite not competing in the AA. Sean Melton, Eddie Penev, Alex Naddour, Steve Legendre and Leroy Clarke were the top point producers in that group. Olympian Chris Brooks (HB-14.95), NCAA VT Champion Anthony McCallum (VT-14.90), NCAA PH Champion Brandon Ngai (PH-14.85) and Alec Yoder (PH-14.90) advanced based mostly on scoring high on one event. Penev (FX-14.90), Brooks, McCallum and Yoder earned top-scoring honors on Day 1.
The evening session got off to a bad start, when Sam Mikulak crumpled to the floor on a FX dismount in the first rotation. Early indications are that he suffered a torn Achilles on the same ankle that he injured in 2015. His evening was finished. If the early diagnosis is correct, Mikulak’s season is done. We all wish him the best and a speedy recovery.