Michigan's Sam Mikulak dominated the first day of the senior P&G Championships in Hartford, Conn., with six spectacular routines and a 91.65 all-around. He stands 2.95 clear of runner-up Jake Dalton heading into Sunday's final round. He topped the high bar event with 15.60 and ranked second on pommel horse and parallel bars.
"I feel great," said Mikulak, who won the NCAA all-around in April. "It's exactly what I wanted to do."
Mikulak mentioned how he had placed second to John Orozco three years in a row as a junior, and how the strength of the U.S. national men's team has lifted the level of everyone. It just so happens that Mikulak is the one on top now.
Dalton posted the top mark on p-bars withs 15.45 but swallowed a 12.45 on his Achilles' heel, the pommel horse, to total 88.70. Alex Naddour, Dalton's former teammate at Oklahoma, was steady throughout and saved his best for the final rotation on pommel horse, where his 15.45 was tops on the event. He sits in third with 87.90, 0.45 ahead of Josh Dixon. Steven Legendre is in fifth with 87.10 and 2011 U.S. champion Danell Leyva is sixth (86.90), having fallen twice on one of his best events, parallel bars. He finished strong, however, on high bar, where he posted a 15.30.
Brandon Wynn, whose 15.70 was the high score on rings, was in second for most of the night but dropped to seventh after scoring just 12.90 on pommels in the final rotation. Defending champion John Orozco is in eighth, competing with a brace on his left knee, having torn his ACL last fall during the Kellogg's Tour of Champions. Orozco tied Mikulak for the top score on high bar, but suffered two falls on his first event, pommel horse.
"I'm going through a lot of mixed emotions right now," Orozco said. "I'm happy to be back out there again, but I'm a little disappointed with pommels."
Leyva was surprisingly confident despite the debacle on p-bars, where he missed his grip on a peach-full pirouette and again on a stutz.
"I wish I could tell you [what happened]," he said. Still, Leyva said his mission for Sunday has not changed. "The goal is to win this meet."
Mikulak sounds like he'll be ready, even if he does have a huge lead.
"It still doesn't change anything for myself," he said. "I still need to stay focused."
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Six berths to the 2013 World Championships are at stake this weekend, and the men's team will be named Sunday afternoon. (The women's team will be named after a training camp.) The worlds will be held in Antwerp, Belgium, and there will be no team competition. All-around and apparatus champions will be crowned.
John Orozco first up on PH: Fell early. Fell again. Hit the second half. Ouch (13.05/6.85 E-score).
Jake Dalton went OB on his first tumbling pass, and layout double Arabian.
Steven Legendre mounts with double-twisting front to double front. (He used to attempt the opposite, unsuccessfully; you can't cowboy a double twist.) Ends with open piked double Arabian. 15.90/6.9!
Stacey Ervin sticks a double front vault.
Danell Leyva opens floor with a layout double-double, then does layout double Arabian. Ends with double layout. Good set.
Adrian de los Angeles lands a strong Kasamatsu-1.5. 14.85.
Sam Mikulak near stick on his Kasamatsu-1.5. 15.20.
Alex Naddour notches a 15.20 on rings with a 6.4 D-score.
Brandon Wynn pulls to L-cross, press inverted; planche back roll Maltese; sticks layout full-out. 15.75
Paul Ruggeri opens floor with layout double Arabian, back with a piked double Arabian. Sticks full-in dismount.
Legendre follows his strongest event with his weakest, PH: He fell shortly after his mount, but finished very well after that. 13.00
Leyva PH: Harder routine than last year, and he struggled with form and ran out of gas at the end. He won't be happy with that set. 13.35/6.1
Donell Whittenberg, the 2012 16-18 champ, dismounted rings with a layout double-double. He's also very, very strong: 14.85/6.5
Ervin hit a clean PB set with a front 1.25 to Moy.
De los Angeles on PB: peach-half, piked Belle, great form throughout.
Ruggeri fell off PH before the dismount and repeated it.
Dalton, like Legendre, follows his strength with his weakness, PH: He, too, fell midway through. Finished strong.
Orozco, wearing a knee brace on his left leg, looks strong on rings, as usual, although the brace isn't making his Malteses any easier. Dismounts with a half-in full-out. 14.65.
Mikulak hits near perfect PB set, the biggest error a tiny hop on his double pike. Is this his time? 15.35/6.3. A 9.05 for execution seems awfully low.
Akash Modi stuck his full-out off p-bars, and he started the swing right over the uprights, where there is zero flex. Impressive.
Mikulak has the two-event lead with 30.55, followed by Wynn at 30.45. Eddie Penev is third with 30.05.
Leyva on rings, getting his weak events done early. He could make a comeback by night's end. Planche was high, but everything else was strong and he stuck his layout full-out. 14.70
Penev on PH: got out of control early and spun off.
Wynn opens PB with strong peaches, a little shaky late. 14.70
Orozco on VT: Kasamatsu-half, clean, tiny hop.
De los Angeles on HB: layout Tkatchev, high; half takemoto, Tkatchev, not linked; clean layout double-double. 14.60/5.7
Mikulak on HB: Cassina (a bit loose), Kolman, half-Takemoto to Moznik; layout double-double, hop. He got through, even if a few giants were barely completed. 15.60/6.9. That will keep him in the lead. He's leading Wynn, 46.15-45.15. De los Angeles is third with 44.30.
Dalton on SR: ip to Maltese, press planche, back roll cross. 15.15/6.3
Legendre on SR: back rise Maltese, bounce cross; back rise planche; sticks tucked double-double.
Wynn on HB: Relatively easy routine, but done well with a stuck layout full-out. Hmm. 6.1 D score and 15.05.
Great floor set from Ervin, mounting with front-full to piked double front.
De los Angeles puts hands down on tucked double-double on floor. Sits down on another pass.
Mikulak on FX: 1.5 twist to double front; double twisting front to rudi; 2.5 twist to front-full; layout Thomas OB; triple twist. 15.35.
Dalton lands his Lopez vault. That will help his all-around. Follows with a high double front (trying to make the world team on vault).
Legendre attempts piked double Tsukahara but does back roll after landing; second vault is Dragulescu, and he gets it around. Those two vault could play at worlds.
Orozco hits strong set on PB.
Leyva on VT, where he couldn't land a Kasamatsu-1.5 in warm-ups. But he landed it this time. Not bad. 14.70.
Whittenburg threw just about every hard release on PB and stuck a double front dismount. He's got a lot of potential. 14.70/6.5
Mikulak extends lead over Wynn, 61.50-60.20. After a 15.75 on floor, Ervin has climbed to third with 59.40.
De los Angeles fell on pommels, but was looking good. Hard to explain. Finished well.
Mikulak on PH: perfect set for him. No leg breaks. He pumped his fist and grinned after landing his dismount. 15.20.
Eddie Penev on VT: half-on to double-twisting front, tiny hop; Shewfelt for second vault (Yurchenko-2.5)
Clean HB from Orozco. 15.60
Excellent PB from Dalton, with Dmitrienko, Dalton, stuck double pike.
Whittenburg hit HB, only to bounce onto his hands on a layout double-double. He's young.
Legendre got a little off near the end of PB after a back toss but hung in there and finished.
Leyva on PB: peach Diamidov, peach to one bar; peach-full, missed hand and fell; then sat down his double front dismount. So much for the late comeback. He looks very disappointed. 13.75/6.7
Wynn on FX: front-full double front; 2.5 dismount, and he sat it down. His first miss. 13.60
A bat is suddenly flying around the arena, setting the crowd off.
Ervin on PH: he fell after his mount sequence; he got through the rest of the routine, but his ranking will drop.
Mikulak has commanding lead over Wynn, 76.70-73.80. Dalton has climbed to third with 73.60. Alex Naddour is fourth (72.45), with his best event, pommels, remaining.
Mikulak on SR: back rise Maltese; steady throughout with a tucked double-double. Six for six effort. He's got some wiggle room for Sunday's finals. 14.95 for a 91.65.
Dalton on HB: looks a little tight and not letting the swing do the work, but keeping it going nonetheless. Strong layout double-double. 15.10/6.4
Naddour hit horse with a full kehre and plenty of difficulty. Should finish in the top three. 15.45/6.7
Legendre hit a dynamic high set, ending with a fast triple flyaway. 14.70.
Leyva on HB, nothing to lose at this point: Takemoto to under grips, Yamawaki; layout Kovacs; piked Kovacs; layout double-double. Great set. 15.30/7.0
Wynn on PH: pretty rough throughout but he got through. He won't score too high, though.
Mikulak 91.65; Dalton 88.70; Naddour 87.90
Joshua Dixon shot up to fourth after strong high bar and floor routines.