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Sam Mikulak Headlines U.S. Men’s Gymnastics World Team That Includes 2 Rookies

By Karen Price | Sept. 07, 2019, 9:58 p.m. (ET)

(L-R) Akash Modi, Yul Moldauer, Sam Mikulak, Shane Wiskus and Trevor Howard pose for a photo at the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Center on Sept. 7, 2019 in Colorado Springs, Colo.


As if there would be any other result, five-time world team member Sam Mikulak will headline the contingent of five U.S. men heading to the 2019 World Gymnastics Championships, held Oct. 4-13 in Stuttgart, Germany.

Joining him are Trevor Howard, Akash Modi, Yul Moldauer and Shane Wiskus, with Allan Bower named as traveling alternate. Howard and Wiskus will make their worlds debuts, while Modi and Moldauer will makes their second and third appearances, respectively.

The men’s team is seeking to reach the podium at the world championships for the first time since finishing third in 2014. Since then, the men finished fifth at the 2015 worlds and again at the Olympic Games Rio 2016, and were fourth in 2018. There was no team competition held in 2017.

Nine countries from the 2019 world championships will qualify teams for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

The team was selected based on a number of factors, including the results of the two-day 2019 U.S. Gymnastics Championships and the two-day all-around World Team Selection Camp that concluded on Saturday night at the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The all-around champion based on the combined scores – Mikulak – had an automatic spot on the team.

The rest of the team was picked based on measures such as which combination would bring the best team score, the ability to qualify to the team final and medal potential in both the all-around and event finals.

Eight men took part in this weekend’s selection camp, including 2016 Olympic alternate Donnell Whittenburg and 2018 world team member Colin Van Wicklen.

Mikulak, who will turn 27 the final day of worlds, had the best score each of the four days for a total of 348.450.

This will be the two-time Olympian and six-time all-around national champion’s fifth trip to the world championships. Last year he was in contention for an all-around medal at worlds before a mistake on the high bar knocked him out at the very end. He came back to win bronze on the apparatus for his first-ever individual medal at either an Olympics or world championships; he was part of the bronze-medal-winning team in 2014.

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Ohio State’s Howard, 26, was fifth at nationals in the all-around and in seventh place after day one of camp. He put up the highest still rings score the first day of camp and second-highest behind Mikulak on Day 2, and tied Van Wicklen for the highest vault score each day.

Modi, a Stanford grad and 2016 Olympic alternate, was second both days of selection camp. He competed at the world championships for the first time in 2018 and is a solid all-around performer. At the national championships, the 24-year-old finished third in the all-around and second on high bar. He was second on high bar both days of camp as well.

Moldauer, 23, was the 2017 national champion while Mikulak was injured and is the 2019 all-around, floor exercise and parallel bars silver medalist. He advanced to the all-around and floor exercise final at the 2018 world championships, and won bronze in floor exercise and finished seventh in the all-around at the 2017 worlds. Coming off an elbow injury, the former Oklahoma standout has been the No. 2 behind Mikulak this quad and holds medal potential for the U.S. again this fall.

Wiskus, who turns 21 on Oct. 1, was third both days in Colorado Springs, and the Minnesota standout – whose one-handed recovery from a release on high bar was shared widely on social media during this year’s nationals – showed the committee enough to earn his spot on the team. At nationals, he finished fourth in the all-around, first on vault and third on parallel bars. He was second on parallel bars both days at camp.

Karen Price is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has covered Olympic sports for various publications. She is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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