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Just a few highlight high bar routines from the Men’s NCAA Championships.  I can’t say I love seeing so many “Yamawakis” (laid-out hecht vault with a half turn), when nearly all of them are quite piked.  It does really stand out when a gymnast does it truly laid-out, but I’m surprised that so many of these actually get credit.  What I DO love, though, is the Giengers done out of them, as this is obviously a growing trend that has created more release combinations than we were seeing for the past ten years.

Alex Buscaglia High Bar 2011 NCAA Event Finals

Phenomenal routine!!!  Absolutely loved that one.  He won a well deserved NCAA crown with this routine, which scored a strong 15.75 (6.8, 8.95).  His laid out Tcatchev to huge Gienger was my favorite sequence of the final…great height on the Tcatchev-half turn as well.  Overall he had the best looking swing and capped it off with an awesome stuck laid-out double-double.  He’s consistently one of the nation’s very best on high bar.

Ian Makowske High Bar 2011 NCAA Event Finals

Second place with a 15.35 (6.1, 9.25).  I do love his original skill at the beginning – the Takamoto hop full turn – but I’d have to say I would never have scored him a 9.25 on execution because of how early he comes in for all of his jam skills.  He has a very interesting technique; noticed he kind of arches up the front giant and then immediately drops into the jam or Weiler skills rather than dropping from the handstand.  Obviously these judges didn’t seem to mind at all, but I’m afraid I’d feel compelled to deduct for doing that.  No way he should have scored three tenths higher in execution that Buscaglia, and even with a hop on the dismount.  Props for that cool skill though!

Kyle Bunthuwong High Bar 2011 NCAA Event Finals

Third place with a 15.1 (6.0, 9.1).  Nothing all that special really, but it was very clean and ended with a stuck dismount.

Jake Dalton High Bar 2011 NCAA Event Finals

Definitely the biggest surprise of the USA men thus far this year…Dalton continued his incredible performances from the Winter Cup and American Cup with two NCAA titles on floor and vault, a second-place finish on p-bars, a 4th place finish for this high bar routine, and an additional finals appearance on rings.  That’s a total of FIVE OUT OF SIX event finals!  Interestingly a dismal 9.85 on pommel horse dropped him all the way to 11th in the all-around.  With the way he’s going right now, I’d be shocked if he doesn’t make the world team this year.

Steven Legendre High Bar 2011 NCAA Event Finals

Speaking of world team, Dalton may  unfortunately keep his teammate Legendre off of his third consecutive world team if he stays on this roll.  Legendre is still a fantastic gymnast, but Dalton has now beaten him several times on the events they both excel on – floor and vault – and is also proving to be one of our very best all-arounders.  Legendre might have only finished tied for 6th with this routine with a 14.8 (6.0, 8.8), but this is one of my favorite routines because of all the high-flying skills.  Three HUGE Covacs variations and an exciting triple back…what more could you ask for?