Sam Mikulak won his fourth consecutive U.S. men’s all-around national championship Sunday at P&G Men's Gymnastics Championships at the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut.
Mikulak, who is striving for his second Olympic team, becomes the first man to win four straight all-around national championships since Blaine Wilson, who strung together five titles from 1996 to 2000. Only four other men have achieved the feat: Alfred Jochim (six total, 1925-30), George Wheeler (five, 1937-41), John Beckner (four, 1956-59), and Makoto Sakamoto (four, 1963-66).
Trailing Donnell Whittenburg by 0.05 points after Friday’s session, Mikulak ramped up his game Sunday afternoon, improving the scores he posted Friday in five of the six events. His combined total of 181.500 points easily surpassed the 179.850 by Chris Brooks, who finished second. Third place went to 2012 Olympian Jake Dalton with 179.000 points, while Akash Modi was fourth with 178.750 points.
Mikulak, the all-around champion at the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games, was a model of consistency throughout the meet. Only three of his 12 scores from both days of competition fell below 15.000, giving him top-10 placements on five of the six apparatuses. The only exception was floor exercise, where a score of 13.500 on Friday bumped his two-day total to 28.900, which ranked 20th.
Despite defending his U.S. title on still rings, Whittenburg dropped back to a tie for fifth place in the all-around with Sean Melton and Yul Moldauer, each posting 177.550. Whittenburg’s 87.650 on Sunday was 2.25 points off the 89.900 he scored Friday evening.
Brooks, the all-around bronze medalist in 2015, had two of the four highest individual scores awarded by the judges at the meet. His 15.900 Sunday on high bar pushed him to the silver medal in that event, while the 15.800 he received on parallel bars made him the national champion for the apparatus. He now has progressed from parallel bars bronze in 2012 to silver in 2015 and now gold this year.
Other national champions crowned Sunday include Dalton on floor (31.00), Donothan Bailey on pommel horse (30.650), Dalton and Matthew Wenske tied on vault (30.850), and Paul Ruggeri on high bar (31.600).
The top 13 men at the meet, as well as five discretionary picks, were named to the national team and will advance to the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Men's Gymnastics, held June 23-25 in St. Louis. Among the 18 are four members of the 2012 Olympic team: Mikulak, Dalton, John Orozco (10th) and Danell Leyva (16th).