Sam Mikulak celebrates at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships on Aug. 18, 2018 in Boston.
In winning his fifth U.S. all-around gymnastics title this past August, Sam Mikulak made his statement to the world.
With strong Day 2 routines across all six apparatuses, the two-time U.S. Olympian posted the second-best all-around score in the world this year, according to a database maintained by thegymter.net. The performance also helped secure national titles on floor exercise, pommel horse and high bar, and marked his second “six for six” of the season, following a win at April’s Pacific Rim Championships in Colombia.
The next step? Winning his first individual medal at a major international championship.
“If I can go out and do this,” he said after nationals, “I think I can make a very strong case for it.”
He’ll soon have that chance. Mikulak leads a group of five U.S. men’s gymnasts selected to compete at the world championships, which take place Oct. 25-Nov. 4 in Doha, Qatar. USA Gymnastics announced the team on Saturday following a two-day competition held at a selection camp in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Joining him on the U.S. team is 2017 world medalist Yul Moldauer, as well as Akash Modi, Colin Van Wicklen and Alec Yoder.
Of the group, only Mikulak and Moldauer have world championships experience, and only Mikulak has Olympic experience.
The world championships feature a team event in addition to competition in the individual all-around and on each apparatus. During the qualifying round, each country is allowed four gymnasts per apparatus, with the top three scores counting for team qualifying. During team finals, three gymnasts compete on each apparatus, and all three scores count.
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Team USA’s roster in anchored by strong all-arounders in Mikulak and Moldauer.
Mikulak, who will be 26 in Doha, has won every U.S. all-around title for which he’s competed since 2013 and finished as high as sixth in the all-around at the 2013 world championships. This will be his fourth time competing at worlds, though he’s still seeking his first individual medal. He finished just off the podium in fourth place during the high bar competition at the 2016 Olympics and 2013 world championships.
Moldauer won the 2017 national title while Mikulak was injured, and finished seventh at last year’s worlds. His third-place finish on floor exercise marked the only medal for the U.S. men at last year’s worlds. The NCAA champ for Oklahoma is coming off a runner-up performance at this year’s nationals during which he was struggling with injuries.
The team also boasts a solid all-arounder in Modi.
Modi, an alternate for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team, was sixth in the all-around at nationals and is consistent across the apparatuses.
They will be supplemented by Yoder and Van Wicklen, who thrive more on specific events.
Yoder, a 2014 Youth Olympic Games bronze medalist, won his first U.S. title this summer on the pommel horse, bolstering what had long been the weak event for the U.S. men. His score of 15.15 on Day 1 of nationals is tied for the seventh best in the world so far this year.
Van Wicklen will earn his first international experience in Doha. He’s coming off third-place finishes on vault and high bar at nationals.
In addition to the five gymnasts selected for Team USA, Allan Bower will travel to Doha as the alternate.
Chrös McDougall has covered the Olympic movement for TeamUSA.org since 2009, including the gymnastics national championships and Olympic trials every year since 2011, on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc. He is based in Minneapolis-St. Paul.