In a showcase of Olympic hopefuls from 17 Pacific Rim countries, Chris Brooks of Houston edged California native Sam Mikulak 88.7-88.65 to claim the meet's all-around gold medal and help the U.S. earn the team championship at Comcast Arena.
EVERETT — It was a good night for the U.S. men at the Pacific Rim Gymnastics Championships on Saturday.
In a showcase of Olympic hopefuls from 17 Pacific Rim countries, Chris Brooks of Houston edged California native Sam Mikulak 88.7-88.65 to claim the meet’s all-around gold medal and help the U.S. earn the team championship at Comcast Arena.
The U.S., with 352.05 points, topped Japan (344.7) and China (343.25) in the biannual competition.
While no team stocked its rosters with elite-only talent, including defending world champion China, the U.S. men’s national team coordinator, Kevin Mazeika, was encouraged by what he saw.
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“We came in well prepared, and we went out there and were very consistent,” Mazeika said. “We executed extremely well tonight. The all-around was really, really close. That just speaks to the depth of the U.S. team.”
Brooks, 25, nipped Mikulak in the final event with a dazzling floor routine, eliciting a loud crowd reaction with a dynamic front double pike.
“I was just kind of on,” Brooks said, who also introduced a new vault technique at this meet. “I took a hop on nearly every landing, but they were all really small hops. I just tried to give everything some style and some flair, and it went well. I’m pretty proud of that.”
“His consistency impressed me,” Mazeika said.
The 19-year-old Mikulak, who won the 2011 all-around NCAA title as a freshman at Michigan (becoming the only male freshman to ever do so), executed a skyscraping Kolman maneuver (a full-twisting, double-backflip high above the bar) that got the crowd screaming.”He did a lot of things very well tonight,” Mazeika said.
Koji Uematsu of Japan took third on all-around (87.2), one of five Japanese gymnasts competing in Everett who have World Championship experience. (The U.S. squad had one.)
Even though China’s roster was not an A-list team, Mazeika likes the trend he sees.
“We’re working as hard as we can to close that gap,” he said of China’s position as top dog in men’s gymnastics. “Today was a good indication that we’re headed in the right direction.”
• U.S. men won bronze at the 2008 Olympics and bronze at the 2011 World Championships in Japan, missing silver by a fraction of a point. The U.S. last won a men’s team Olympic gold in 1984; Paul Hamm is the most recent American to win men’s Olympic gold (2004 all-around).
• Saturday’s combined attendance for afternoon and evening sessions was 4,925.
• The meet concludes Sunday with men’s and women’s senior individual event finals at 6 p.m. (juniors at noon).
• Three Americans earned senior gold medals in Saturday’s rhythmic gymnastics finals. Julie Zetlin, 20, of Bethesda, Md., won in ribbon and ball competition. Zetlin has already been selected to represent the U.S. at the Olympics. Polina Kozitskiy (16, Fountainville, Pa.) took top honors for hoop. China’s Linyi Peng took gold for clubs. Julia Garbuz (15, Eden Prairie, Minn.) won two junior golds (hoop and ball).
• Sunday also includes trampoline competition: junior team (9 a.m.), senior team (11:30 a.m.), individual finals (4 p.m.) and synchronized (7 p.m.).