I’ve already got plenty to update on my London StockWatch after last night’s incredible men’s competition.
Here’s my most up-to-date rank list of the men’s Olympic contenders:
1. Danell Leyva
2. John Orozco
3. Jonathan Horton
4. Jake Dalton
5. Glen Ishino
6. Sam Mikulak
7. Steve Legendre
8. Chris Brooks
9. Alex Naddour
10. Brandon Wynn
11. CJ Maestas
12. David Sender
Just Outside The Top 12:
Major moves in last night’s competition:
Sam Mikulak jumped from 10th to 6th after delivering the most surprising performance of these championships thus far. Mikulak scored so well in last night’s meet that I think many experts were thrown for a bit of a loop and aren’t exactly sure where to place him at this point. Even with a fall on floor, Mikulak was able to show he’s potentially usable on multiple events – floor (without the fall), vault, pommel horse, and parallel bars – and even his scores on high bar and rings were solid. We need to see more from Mikulak – on pommel horse in particular – before making any rash moves like putting him on the Olympic team, but for right now he appears to be at least a very possible alternate. He’s the exact equivalent of Sarah Finnegan on the women’s side – the young rookie who’s exciting to watch, very well received by the judges, and is surpassing everyone’s expectations.
Alex Naddour dropped from 6th to 9th. Naddour is still in this game, but some interesting things happened last night that certainly dropped him down – at least temporarily. First, Glen Ishino beat him again, just as he did at the Winter Cup. Secondly, even Danell Leyva outscored Naddour by 0.05 – which speaks highly of Leyva’s improvement on this event, but not so highly of Naddour’s value as a specialist. Thirdly, a couple of our other top pommel horse workers – John Orozco and Mikulak – scored just a tenth behind Naddour. There’s no question that Naddour can do that routine more cleanly than he did on Day 1, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him hit a 15+ score on Day 2. He may need 15’s from here on out – and possibly may need some lower scores from some of the other top pommel horse workers – to stay in the Olympic mix.
I swapped Steve Legendre and Chris Brooks, moving Legendre up to 7th and Brooks down to 8th. This almost sounds crazy given how well Brooks did on Day 1 (4th all-around and 1st on vault), but looking at the individual scores themselves, Legendre’s 16.15 on floor is actually more eye-catching than any of Brooks’ scores – even his 16.45 on vault. Although this 16.45 is certainly a huge score, we have several other 16’s on vault to replace it with, while we do not have other 16’s on floor. Legendre’s 16.15 on floor would be huge in the Olympic team finals because our other options are likely going to be low 15’s. Jake Dalton is one of the very few who can also deliver a near-16 on floor, so it is very important that he continues to do this. Brooks did put up a very good rings score of 14.95, but again, Dalton is scoring very close to this as well. So although Chris Brooks looks awesome, he’s going to really need to put up some big individual scores on events other than vault in order to move up this list.
Brandon Wynn dropped from 9th to 10th, as Sam Mikulak clearly surpassed him. Wynn did a solid routine on Day 1 and still placed 2nd in the field with a 15.35, but the chances of a rings specialist making this Olympic team are looking a bit slimmer. We would need to see high 15’s or even a 16 to be convinced he (or CJ Maestas) is worthy of an Olympic spot.
That’s where I feel things stand at this point, and I can’t wait to see what developments take place tomorrow. We may very well be seeing the best U.S. men’s Olympic team being put together right now, and it’s so exciting to watch it all unfold.
I’ll do an update on the women’s side before tonight’s meet next!