|John Orozco is congratulated by coach Vitaly Marinitch after competing on the pommel horse during the 2014 P&G Gymnastics Championships at Consol Energy Center on Aug. 22, 2014 in Pittsburgh.
PITTSBURGH -- John Orozco has competed in 10 meets since undergoing surgery for a torn ACL and meniscus in November 2012.
In his 11th, the P&G Gymnastics Championships, which began Friday at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, he finally felt like he did in 2012, when he won the U.S. all-around title and competed at the London Olympic Games.
“Today I got a little spark of how I used to be,” he said.
The Bronx, New York, native, didn’t have any one routine that stole the show but, as he is wont to do, he quietly racked up the night’s best scores on two events and top-five on three more en route to the night’s best all-around score, 90.750. Fellow 2012 Olympians Jake Dalton (90.250), Danell Leyva (88.900) and Sam Mikulak (88.400) rounded out the top four. Jonathan Horton, the fifth member of the 2012 Olympic Team, was 12th in his first competition since the Games, a period in which he has undergone two reconstructive shoulder surgeries.
“It’s always nice to hit my routines and to be top three, but I know we have a whole other day and anything can happen, so I’m just looking at this and staying on my toes,” he said.
Orozco’s only obvious mistake was a big step on his vault landing, and that was the only event in which he didn’t place top-five. Meanwhile, his 15.600 on parallel bars led the event and his 15.750 on high bar tied Leyva for the lead.
Dalton proved to be nearly as consistent as Orozco, finishing with top-four finishes on five events, including the top score (15.650) on floor exercise, his bread and butter.
The result for Leyva was the beginning of a different type of comeback. After winning an Olympic all-around bronze medal in 2012, Leyva struggled with confidence and injuries in 2013 and into 2014.
That confidence slowly crept back into his demeanor as he went through his routines Friday, especially after his strong showing on parallel bars and then his Superman-like high bar routine. Like Orozco, he said this was the best he felt in a competition since the Olympic year.
“In a competition, yeah, definitely, 100 percent,” the 2011 U.S. all-around champion said.
Mikulak, the defending U.S. champion who this spring won his third NCAA all-around title in four years at Michigan, overcame a slipped hand off the parallel bars and a sit-down at the end of a tumbling pass on floor exercise to finish third.
Chrös McDougall has been a reporter and editor for TeamUSA.org since 2009 on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc. He is based in Minneapolis-St. Paul.