Donnell Whittenburg took the silver medal and Sam Mikulak won the bronze in men’s all-around competition at the 2015 Pacific Rim Gymnastics Championships Friday night in Everett, Washington. With Americans taking four of the top five places, the United States easily won the team competition with a score of 355.950, followed by China’s 347.700 for silver. Canada won the team bronze, scoring 333.200.
Whittenburg posted the meet’s top scores on rings (15.70) and parallel bars (15.60) to support an all-around score of 87.200, only 0.25 points behind gold medalist Weifang Cai of China. Mikulak, a 2012 Olympian, finished the night with a strong pommel horse routine to vault past teammate John Orozco and onto the podium with 87.150. Orozco, also a 2012 Olympian, was fourth win 86.850, while Alex Naddour earned an 86.65.
Whittenburg remains on course to earn a position on his first Olympic team this summer. The all-around silver medalist at last year’s national championships, he opened the 2016 season with a sixth-place all-around finish at the Winter Cup Challenge, taking gold on rings and bronze on vault, before finishing second all-around at the AT&T American Cup, a world cup event.
The result marked Orozco’s successful return to major competition after being sidelined by a torn right Achilles tendon since June 2015. Hoping that the third time is a charm, the 2012 Olympian has come back from a prior tear to the same Achilles tendon, in August 2010, as well as a torn ACL in October 2012. His 86.85 included the top high bar score of the night (14.65), but he lost ground on the final rotation by falling off the pommel horse, allowing Mikulak to slip past him and onto the podium.
The 2016 Winter Cup Challenge champion in all-around, pommel horse and high bar, Mikulak is the three-time reigning U.S. all-around champion and the all-around gold medalist at the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games. He was a three-time NCAA all-around champion for the University of Michigan.
Another American on the comeback trail from injury, Jake Dalton, also returned to major competition Friday and demonstrated that he has mended from surgery to repair a torn labrum. His 15.60 on floor tied teammate Eddie Penev for best of the evening, while the 15.00 he scored on rings was third best in the field.
The U.S. men will return to action in Everett on Sunday with the individual event finals. Whittenburg qualified in four events: rings, vault, parallel bars and high bar. He was joined by Orozco on rings, parallel bars and high bar, while Penev qualified for floor and vault. Dalton earned a spot on floor exercise, while Mikulak and Naddour will compete on pommel horse. The top eight individuals on each apparatus Friday night qualified for the individual event final, with each country limited to no more than two athletes per event.