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Quick Hits: 2014 Winter Cup Challenge – Finals


Welcome to the finals of the Winter Cup! Right now, the meet officials are attending to the floor. They are lifting up the rug and the foam on the floor, and they’re trying to scoot the floor boards closer together. It appears that some of them have slid over the past couple of days. While they take of that, let’s discuss what’s going on tonight…

What’s at stake? Being named to the National Team. According to Scott Bregman, The 6 men who competed at the 2013 World Championships and the 2 alternates have guaranteed spots on the National Team. In other words, these guys don’t have to worry about a thing:

  • Jake Dalton
  • Steven Legendre
  • Sam Mikulak
  • Alex Naddour
  • John Orozco
  • Eddie Penev
  • Paul Ruggeri
  • Brandon Wynn

For the rest of the field, there are 7 spots open on the National Team. These spots will be determined, in part, by the National Team Points Program. If I did my math correctly, these are the current point leaders:

  • Jake Martin, 24 points
  • Donnell Whittenburg, 21 points
  • Adrian de los Angeles, 21 points
  • Josh Dixon, 20 points
  • Alec Robin, 20 points
  • Marvin Kimble, 17 points
  • Sean Melton, 15 points
  • Chris Brooks, 14 points
  • CJ Maestas, 13 points
  • Danell Leyva, 12 points
  • Akash Modi, 11 points
  • Craig Hernandez, 11 points

Warmups Update: Chris Brooks just did a shirtless handspring double front and stuck it. I think that the gym moms were very happy with that. There was a lot of swooning.

On the short shorts front: It’s a close race today. Josh Dixon, Danell Leyva, and Michael Wilner might be in a three-way tie for the lead.

While we wait… Here are some tidbits from my interview with Danell Leyva:

Uncle Tim: What went wrong with your shoulder in 2013?

Danell Leyva: “I actually had a couple little things. Luckily, it wasn’t anything big. No surgery required–just a lot of physical therapy. It was a partial labrum tear, partial rotator cuff tear, some impingement, tendonitis. It’s way better now.”

Uncle Tim: Going into 2014, what are your goals?

Danell Leyva: “I want to win this meet. That’s my first goal.”

We shall see if he can come from behind and win the all-around…


Featured Entertainment:

Ellie Smith (the girl below) is singing Queen’s “Somebody to Love.” I’m not an American Idol judge, but I’m going with Difficulty score: 4.0; Execution score: 8.150; Final Score: 12.150

Walk-In: Jake Dalton definitely won the cheering contest. John Orozco and Danell Leyva were a distant second.

Rotation 1

Adrian de los Angeles on VT: Kas 1.5– small hop; 14.900.

John Orozco on SR: Yamawaki; uprise to Maltese; Uprise to planche– a little swing; Struggles a bit on the handstand; Jonasson; Presses it up to a handstand a bit; Double back with 1.5 twists.

Chris Brooks on PH: Didn’t see the whole routine, but he stayed on; 13.900

Ellis Mannon on VT: Sits down his Yurchenko 1.5; 13.200

Akash Modi on HB: Struggles on his Adler 1/1. Low on his Yamawaki–had to take an extra swing between skills. Stalder 1/2. Sticks his double-double layout! 14.100

Stacey Ervin on VT: Huge handspring double front–nearly sticks it–small hop back. The crowd goes CRAZY. (They’ll go crazy for just about any handspring double front.) 14.950

Sean Melton on PB: Flip to hands; Peach to single rail–Oleg Verniaievs it and has to press back up; Moy to handstand; Healy; Diamadov to handstand walk; Stutz; Front uprise; hand walk; Double pike dismount; 13.750–bummer, he’s usually really strong on this event.

Danell Leyva on PH: Falls off while traveling (Didn’t see the travel–was watching Melton at the same time); Remounts and almost falls on his triple Russian; He finishes it up and the crowd unleashes a big cheer. No fist pump from Yin; 13.300

Bobby Baker on VT: Kas 1.5–A bit of bent knees in the air; Hop on the landing; 14.850

Brandon Wynn on SR: Hangs for a looong time before starting the routine–for dramatic effect maybe? Front lever to L-cross; Press to inverted cross–a little questionable whether they will give him a straight-body or bent-body press; Another inverted cross; Jonasson to planche; Uprise to L-sit (Was that simple element in his Worlds routine? I can’t remember); Maltese; Nakayama; Uprise to handstand; Full-twisting double layout. A HUUUUGE 15.750! The U.S. Chen Yibing!

Marvin Kimble on PH: Presses his scissors to handstand a bit; Leg separation on his one-pommel Russian, but stays on. Struggles on his Russian travel and straddles, but stays on. Really presses it up to handstand on his dismount. Lots of deductions, but he stayed on; 13.000.

Jake Martin on PB: Jumping in mid-routine–a bit of a problem on his single-rail jam to handstand. Really high straddle 5/4; Nice Diamadov. Nice Stutz. Decent step back on his double pike dismount; 14.100

Donnell Whittenburg on SR: Azarian roll to cross; press to Maltese; Uprise to inverted cross; Jonasson; Uprise to Maltese; Cross; Uprise to planche; Giant–little sag in the back; Double twisting double layout–little hop on the landing. He twists so fast on that skill; 15.050.


Rotation 2

Chandler Eggleston on VT: Shewfelt (Yurchenko 2.5)–A little hop to the side, but a very pretty vault. I don’t know if it was Sean Senters good, but it was good. 15.350

Josh Dixon on VT: Yurchenko 1/2 on + double full off; Huge pop off the table even though it looked like one hand slipped a bit; Small hop on the landing. 15.200

Danell Leyva on SR: Kip to L-cross–shoulders high and then dip down; Yamawaki + Jonasson; Uprise to straddle planche; Straddle-L; Press to handstand; Has to press handstand up; Full-twisting double layout; Decent hop forward. (There was another cross in there where his shoulders were way too high before dipping down). 13.700

Sean Melton on HB: Catches his Kolman and Kovacs without a problem; Past handstand on his Adler 1/2; Stalder = fine; Full-twisting double layout = STUCK; 14.800

HUGE fist pump from the coach; I hope that he and Yin don’t throw their shoulders out cheering today! 🙂

Donnell Whittenburg: Big step forward on handspring double front–not too much cowboy in the air though; 15.150

John Orozco on VT: Handspring front double full to his feet; Side step; Block was still a little lopsided; OOB; 14.850

OSU takes forever to chalk and unchalk the bars; Isn’t there a time limit on this?

Marvin Kimble on SR: Uprise to Maltese; Inlocate to Yamawaki to Jonasson to cross to L-sit; Press to handstand; Archy on his giant handstand; Full-twisting double layout; Swings his arms a la Moceanu during team finals in 1996, but he can’t hold on; 14.450

Adrian de los Angeles on PB: Straddle cut to open; Peach 1/2; Peach; Giant; Belle–lovely–just lovely; Tippelt; Stutz; Diamadov–a little past handstand; Double pike to finish; 14.750

Eddie Penev on FX: Opens with his eponymous skill–the Penev (Tamayo + half out); Hop back; Bites his lip as he runs into his whip 1/2 + Randi; Back 1.5 to front double full; Wide-arm press; Korobchynski; Man-wipe; Triple twist with a small slide of one foot; 16.050! DAAAANG! Boy was on FIRE! Highest score of the meet so far!


Rotation 3

Sean Melton on FX: Double Arabian with a bit of Flinsteone flexed feet; 2.5 punch Barani; Double full; Wide-arm press handstnad; Press through to handstand; Thomas without a problem; Back 2.5 to finish with a small hop; 14.900

Danell Leyva on VT: Step back on his Kas full; 14.650

Steven Legendre on SR: Slowly dips down on his cross and then he’s off; and he’s done. He didn’t remount the rings, yet he still gets a 12.900.

Josh Dixon on PB:  Only caught the end; Huge hop back on his double pike dismount; 14.200

Jake Martin on FX: Weird take off on his Arabian double pike; Back 2.5 to punch Barani; Straight body press to handstand; Front layout to front double full–hard landing; Back 1.5 to front full; Awkward turn into corner; Double Arabian to finish–Legs looked tired; 14.800

Marvin Kimble on VT: Handspring double front; Huuuuge Cowboy; and HUUUGE squat; butt was close to touching–don’t think the booty dropped though; 14.050

Jake Dalton on SR: Huge cheer before the routine starts! Kip through to Maltese; Lift to planche; Cross; Inlocate; Jonasson–slightly bent knees to Yamawaki; To a Maltese that may not get credit–weird angle; Planche; Tucked double-double; hop on the landing; 15.200–hmm… That seems high.

Chris Brooks on VT: Handspring double front; Big hop forward and a HUGE flourish of his arms; Everyone is laughing–Could Chris Brooks take over for John Macready as the meet MC in the future? 14.800 (9.200 in execution!)

Donnell Whittenburg on PB: Flip to hands; Peach; Dimitrenko; Front uprise to straddle 5/4; Moy to immediate double front; Tucked 1/2; Another tucked 1/2; Double front with a small hop; 14.400

John Orozco on PB: Flip to hands; Bit of a press up; Double tuck; Double pike; Struggles on his peach 1/2; Giant tucked 1/2; Press up to handstnad; Straddle 5/4; Misses his hand on his Tippelt and crashes onto the bar; Double pike with a big step forward–Oh, boogers! Looked off from the start; 12.450

Bobby Baker on HB: The world’s longest triple back, but he made it to his feet! 13.750

Adrian de los Angeles on HB: Stretched Tkatchev; Stalder 1/2; Adler 1/1; Adler 1/2; Tkatchev; Quast (hop full); Endo; Double-twisting double layout to a small hop; 14.550

Chandler Eggleston on PB: Jumping in here mid-routine… Diamadov; Stutz; Front uprise to handstand; Double pike to small hop back; 13.800.

Current standings:

1. Donnell Whittenburg, 130.600

2. Sean Melton, 129.600

3. Chris Brooks, 129.550

4. Jake Martin, 129.000

5. John Orozco, 128.350

6. Josh Dixon, 128.300


Rotation 4

The warmup music is Sam Mikulak’s Worlds jam! “Animals!!!!!”

Stacey Ervin on FX: Front double full punch front full; Huge Tamayo to a small hop; Wide-arm press handstand; Back 2.5 to a sideways Barani; Back 1.5 to rudi to a dive roll into happy baby position; Korobchynski; Arabian double tuck with a small hop back; 14.300

Donnell Whittenburg on HB: Yamawaki 1/2; Quast; Blind change to mixed grip to Yamawaki; Whirly Twirly; Endo 1/1; Stalder past handstand; Double-twisting double layout to a hop back; 13.900

John Orozco on HB: Liukin–feet off to side; Rybalko; Stretched Tkatchev 1/2; Adler 1/2 to Tkatchev 1/2; Adler 1/1 to Yamawaki; Sticks his full-twisting double layout; 15.250

Bobby Baker on FX: Takes a seat on his front double full to front full; Double Arabian; Wide-arm press handstand; Randi on the straight away; Back 2.5 to Barani; Man wipe; Triple full to end; 13.350

Adrian de los Angeles on FX: On night 1, he finished with a triple-twisting back handspring. Fingers crossed that he can get through the routine without a major error! Opens with a Randi that’s not quite all the way around; Back 1.5 to rudi; Back 2.5 to front full; Tumbling is a little crooked today; So in love with the flair work; Cartwheel into the corner; Korobchynski–a bit piked; Triple full; doesn’t make it all the way around and he limps off the floor; He’s down–grabbing his left ankle; Coaches help him off the floor; 15.100–even with that unfortunate ending! Whoa.

Josh Dixon on HB: Winkler (Jaeger 1/1) is fine; Adler 1/1 is right on top of the bar; Yamawaki is a bit close; Dismounts with a full-twisting double tuck. Not sure what happened there; 15.000.

Chris Brooks on PB: Flip to hands; Struggles on his peach pirouette; Giant 1/1; Straddle 5/4; Double tuck with a hop to dismount; 15.550

Sean Melton on PH: Decent rhythm throughout; Really presses up to the handstand on dismount; Coach raises arms up in a V and cheers him up to that handstand; He makes it; 13.750

Danell Leyva on PB: Peach to handstand; Peach 1/1 has to correct one hand; Peach to single rail; Giant 3/2; Giant 1/1; Giant; Straddle cut–has to walk hands backwards; Sticks his double front and the crowd goes wild.

This is like a WAG college meet–A stuck landing is the only thing that matters to the crowd.

Chris Brooks takes the lead with a 145.100; Donnell Whittenburg in second with a 144.500; John Orozco in third with a 143.600

Rotation 5

Donnell Whittenburg on FX: Double-twisting double layout to start; Double pike; Wide-arm handstand; Back 2.5; Korobchynski; Man wipe and deep breaths; Double Arabian piked HALF OUT! One-upping Katherine Grable! 15.600

Marvin Kimble on HB: Catches his Liukin–higher than Orozco’s; Needs to work on flexibility on the Adlers; Sticks full-twisting double layout; 14.700

Eddie Penev on VT: Handspring half-on + Double full off; Form in the air–smallest of shuffles on landing, really drills it; 15.300

John Orozco on FX: Double pike on; Korobchynksi; Flairs were nice; Back 1.5 to front full; Lovely Russians on floor; Back 2.5. 14.850

Cameron Bock on VT: Kasamatsu full; He’s down; Right ankle is at a bad angle; let’s just say that mothers are shielding their sons’ eyes, telling them not to look. Poor guy! He was having a much better day 2!

Sean Melton on SR: Uprise to planche; Lower to Maltese; Uprise to Maltese–a little wobbly; Yamawaki to Jonasson to Straddle-L; Straddle planche; Tucked double double; 14.350

Jake Martin on SR: Uprise to pikey planche; L-sit to pikey planche; Shaky handstand; Jumping over to HB; 13.600

Chris Brooks on HB: Yamawaki 1/2; Little wild on Adler 1/2 to Stretched Tkatchev; Stretched Tkatchev; Adler 1/1 to Yamawaki; Wild on his whirly twirly; Double-twisting double layout–hop back; 15.350

Josh Dixon on FX: Sat down his Double Arabian; Back 2.5 to Barani; Wide-arm press handstands; Korobchynski; Full-twisting double tuck to finish; 14.100

Ellis Mannon on PH: If you like flairs, YouTube this routine! You’ll love it! 14.500

Danell Leyva on HB: Yin Claps to begin; Adler 1/1 to Yamawaki–A little wild; Stretched Kovacs and Yin Alvarez kicks his leg up to will him onto the bar; Misses his Kolman;

Crowd stands to cheer the fact that Cameron Bock was carried off the mats; Danell looks confused. Maybe wondering if they were cheering his fall?

Stalder 1.5; Stretched Tkatchev–wild legs on the connected Rybalko; Double-twisting dobule layout–small step back; 14.600

Akash Modi on VT: Step back on Kas full–excellent for that LONG wait; 14.400


Chris Brooks still in the lead with one event to go…

1. Chris Brooks, 160.450

2. Donnell Whittenburg, 160.100

3. John Orozco, 158.450

4. Sean Melton, 157.700

5. Marvin Kimble, 157.600


Rotation 6


Trevor Howard on FX: Tamayo; Front layout to double pike; Back 2.5 to front full; He means business; Korobchynski–really piked; Wide-arm handstand; Front double full to Barani–awkward landing; Double Arabian, which he finishes bent over with his head by his knees; 14.500

Sean Melton on VT: Nearly sticks his handspring double–small side shuffle; 15.300

John Orozco on PH: He’s off on his Wu travel–everything looked good until that point; He fell again! 12.900

Jake Martin on VT: Huge pop off the table on his Shewfelt vault; Goes for the stick and sits it down–Vault looks great on a tall gymnast! 14.300

Danny Berardini on HB: Does a stretched Tkatchev and comes down right on top of the bar–scary fall, but he gets back up and finishes the routine;

Chris Brooks on FX: Arabian double pike–shuffle on the landing; Front layout to front double tuck–deep squat but sticks it; Back 1.5 to front double full; Wide-armed press handstand; Lackadaisical jump to the sideline; Back 2.5 to front full; Double full to hop; 14.400

Akash Modi on PB: Giant; Bhavsar; Tippelt; Healy; 1/2 pirouette; Diamadov; Back uprise to handstand; Stutz; Front uprise; Kato dismount to a small hop

CJ Maestas on PH: Justin Spring squats down–he looks more nervous than CJ; Struggles on his handstand pirouette travel; Triple Russian on the end; Legs go crazy on his Russian travel; Really has to press up his scissors to handstand–both of them; Legs shaking as he pirouettes off; 12.900

CJ Maestas drops his singlet, and the ladies by me let out a huge woo!

Danell Leyva on FX: Double-twisting double layout to start–after a really long pause; Big step back; Tamayo–barely gets his feet under him; Thomas; Middles splits–Women are going crazy around me; Manna–much better than day 1; Whip to Back 2.5 to Barani–awkward landing; Double layout to a hop; Big cheer–gives a small wave to the audience; 14.900

Donnell Whittenburg on PH: Swing looked really bent throughout; Comes off on his travel forward; Finishes strong; 13.050

Kiwan Watts on FX: Huge double-double tuck–Big EEE around me; Back 2.5 to Barani; Stretched Arabian roll out; Nice flairs up to a handstand pirouette into the corner; Back 1.5 to front full; Long man wipe in the corner; Nice triple full to finish–All eyes were on him; 14.950

Marvin Kimble on FX: Front layout to front double pike; Arabian double pike–hop; Double back on the straightaway–Could easily be a harder pass; Wide-arm press; Cartwheel to corner; Front double full to front full; Short landing on double layout–Takes a big step forward a la Shannon Miller during the 1996 all-around finals; 14.300

Final results:

1. Chris Brooks, 174.850

2. Donnell Whittenburg, 173.150

3. Sean Melton, 173.000

4. Akash Modi, 172.200

5. Marvin Kimble, 171.900

6. John Orozco, 171.350

7. Josh Dixon, 170.850

8. Jake Martin, 170.700

9. Danell Leyva, 170.550

10. CJ Maestas, 169.600

Fun Fact: This is Chris Brooks’s second Winter Cup title. His first was in 2010, the year that he made the World team. Could this be a good omen?

Now we await for the awards.


Event Awards:

Floor: 1T. Eddie Penev, Alec Robin, CJ Maestas

Pommels: 1. Craig Hernandez 2. Ellis Mannon 3. Allan Bowers

Rings: 1. Brandon Wynn 2. Donnell Whittenburg 3. CJ Maestas

Vault: 1T. Eddie Penev, Chandler Eggleston 3. Joshua Dixon

Parallel Bars: 1. Akash Modi 2. Danell Leyva 3. Adrian de los Angeles

High Bar: 1. John Orozco 2. Chris Brooks 3. Sean Melton


National Team Members: Josh Dixon, Sean Melton, Donnell Whittenburg, Chris Brooks; 3 more National Team Members will be added at a later point


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