Posted on 19 February 2017 by admin
LAS VEGAS, NV — Gymnastics fans expected a dogfight. They wanted a dogfight, and that’s exactly what they got! Stanford’s Akash Modi took a slim 1.4-point lead into Saturday night’s Winter Cup finals over his Oklahoma rivals Yul Moldauer and Allan Bower, and the Olympic Training Center’s Donnell Whittenburg and Donothan Bailey. Modi held on to a scant .35 lead over Moldauer heading into the final rotation. The championship was decided precisely how we love to see all great gymnastics meets finish. Moldauer was first up on PH and proceeded to stay on to complete a great set, besting his Day 1 score by 1.75. Modi later jumped up onto one of his better events, high bar, to set the dramatic stage. He had the second-highest score on that event on Day 1 (14.40). Needing a 14.15 to tie Moldauer, Modi was docked for a fall after losing his grip on the bar. The unfortunate miscue cost him the title, and he ended up with a 13.45. In broader perspective, either gymnast could have pulled this out. The final score differential was only .6, so you can obviously see how close this contest was… Moldauer went 6-for-6 in the finals and Modi went 6-for-6 in the prelims… Moldauer took a fall on PH on Day 1 and Modi fell on Day 2. These guys put on a great show!
It was quite a battle between the two NCAA all-around champs (Modi-2015, Moldauer-2016). It was a virtual repeat of their great duel at the 2016 NCAA Championships, which also included Bower and Kanji Oyama. Moldauer also went on to win titles on SR (30.10) and PB (29.30), and also had top-5 finishes on FX (2nd) and VT (2nd). He was one of three gymnasts to score at least 15 on an event, and he did it three times (SR-15.10/15.00 & PB-15.00). Teammate Bower was rock steady the entire meet, finishing relatively comfortably in 3rd place. Bower had top-5 scores on FX (5th), PH (3rd), SR (5th) and VT (T-5th). In true form, he went 12-for-12 for the weekend. Modi’s highest event finish was runner-up on PB, and also had top-5 placements on FX (3rd) and VT (T-5th).
Whittenburg placed solidly in 4th place and had top 5 scores on FX (4th), SR (3rd) and PB (5th). Bailey had an outstanding two days of competition, earning the 5th position. He had top-5 scores on PH (4th) and HB (T-3rd). A pair of Modi’s Stanford teammates, Robert Neff and Grant Breckenridge, took the next two positions, placing 6th and 7th, respectively. Neff appears to be the heir apparent to Bower for iron-man consistency in NCAA competition.
Other event winners were Eddie Penev (FX-29.50), Olympian Alex Naddour (PH-30.10), NCAA VT champion Anthony McCallum (VT-29.85) and Olympian Chris Brooks (HB-29.55). Penev (FX-15.05) and Naddour (PH-15.30) were the other two gymnasts to hit for 15.
Immediately after the competition, the new Senior National Team was announced. Joining the Winter Cup top-4 all arounders were:
- Yul Moldauer
- Akash Modi
- Allan Bower
- Donnell Whittenburg
- Donothan Bailey
- Robert Neff **
- Grant Breckenridge **
- Hunter Justus **
- Kanji Oyama
- Sean Melton
- Eddie Penev
- Chris Brooks
- Alex Naddour
- Jake Dalton
- Sam Mikulak
** First time on Senior National Team
Seven current NCAA gymnasts made the new 15-man squad, and six current NCAA gymnasts cracked the top 10 in the all-around. Three gymnasts made the Senior Team for the first time (Neff, Breckenridge and Justus). The top scoring Junior athlete was high school sophomore Brandon Briones, who placed 10th.
On Sunday, USA Gymnastics made the obvious call by selecting Moldauer and Modi to represent Team USA in the American Cup. Whittenburg and Bower were given assignments to represent Team USA at World Cup events in London (April 8) and Stuttgart (March 19), respectively.