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The more I think about it, the more convinced I am that we currently have the deepest USA men’s team than we ever have before.  By “deepest” I mean the number of gymnasts who could realistically contribute to a medal-contending team effort at the world or Olympic level.  Although we’re certainly not overloaded with top all-around contenders, we have a tremendous number of specialists on every single event who are absolutely world class.  Below I came up with a list of NINETEEN gymnasts whom I feel could realistically make the world team this year if healthy.  Obviously some have more legitimate shots than others, but all have some incredible strengths that would likely be considered by the selection committee.  Unfortunately, only six will make it.  There are some gymnasts on this list who are certainly question marks – notably Alexander Artemev and Sho Nakamori, both of whom have battled injury and both of whom may or may not be trying for the world team this year.  I’m also not totally certain of Joey Hagerty’s status, though if he is still in shape he will likely be a consideration:

  • Chris Brooks
  • Jonathan Horton
  • Danell Leyva
  • Tim McNeill
  • Brandon Wynn
  • Daniel Ribeiro
  • Luke Stannard
  • Alex Naddour
  • Steven Legendre
  • Paul Ruggeri
  • Jake Dalton
  • Kevin Tan
  • Wesley Haagensen
  • Joseph Hagerty
  • Chris Cameron
  • Alexander Artemev
  • Kyle Bunthuwong
  • Glenn Ishino
  • Tim Gentry

That’s a LOT OF CONTENDERS!!!  Below, I’ve listed the same exact gymnasts again, but only on the events where I feel they could realistically be considered for a spot in the 3-up-3-count team finals, which is obviously going to be the biggest concern of the selection committee:

Floor                                                Vault

Legendre                                          Dalton

Brooks                                              Wynn

Horton                                             Horton

Ruggeri                                            Brooks

Dalton                                              Legendre

Cameron                                          Ruggeri

Hagerty

Pommel Horse                           P-Bars

McNeill                                            Leyva

Ribeiro                                             Brooks

Naddour                                          Horton

Stannard                                         McNeill

Haagensen                                     Hagerty

Cameron                                         Bunthuwong

Bunthuwong                                  Artemev

Ishino

Artemev

Rings                                              High Bar

Wynn                                                Horton

Tan                                                    Leyva

Horton                                             Brooks

McNeill                                            Ruggeri

Haagensen                                     Hagerty

Gentry

Once again, some are stronger contenders than others, but there’s no doubt we could put together some incredible teams from those 19 gymnasts.  The most interesting list above to me is the pommel horse list. Notice that I was able to come up with NINE gymnasts who are legitimate considerations for a team finals spot on pommel horse – more than any other event.  However, although we have many gymnasts who could contribute on pommel horse, the challenge in putting together a team stems from the fact that three of the CORE members of our team – Jonathan Horton, Chris Brooks, and Danell Leyva – are relatively weak on pommel horse.  If these three all end up on the world team (as I expect them to), then this means THE OTHER THREE GYMNASTS all need to be strong on pommel horse.  Tim McNeill will have an excellent shot again because of his huge success at worlds last year and because of the fact that he is a potential contributor on rings and p-bars as well.  I think one strong possibility is that we may put one more gymnast from the pommel horse list above on the team, and then opt for a rings specialist like Brandon Wynn.  This would mean we’d have to put up one suboptimal gymnast on pommel horse (like Jonathan Horton, who has improved a good bit on this event), but we’d have a very reliable strong score on rings in the bank.  Rings has always been a favorite among our selection committee when it comes to specialists because of how dependable and consistent the event is, particularly under pressure.  We can guarantee a strong rings score a whole lot more confidently than we can guarantee a strong pommel horse score simply by the nature of the event, and thus I am expecting the committee to lean towards a specialist here as they typically do.

Is there anyone I left off the list?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

I plan on highlighting several of these contenders as we get closer to the U.S. Championships and the selection process begins to unfold, so stay tuned!