Sam Mikulak

Sam Mikulak leads after first night of men’s competition at U.S. gymnastics championships

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California-born Sam Mikulak, or “Hollywood,” as he’s better known to his Olympic teammates, took charge at the U.S. gymnastics championships in Hartford, Conn., on Friday.

Mikulak, 20, grabbed the lead in the second of six rotations and never relinquished it, finishing the first of two nights of competition with 91.65 points, nearly a three-point lead over Olympian Jake Dalton.

The scores Friday (full results below) will be combined with Sunday’s results to determine the national champion and which six men will be selected to compete at the World Championships in Antwerp, Belgium, in October.

Dalton, who won the American Cup in March, started strong on his signature event, floor exercise, but struggled (as many would) on the dreaded pommel horse, falling off during his routine.

There was an eerie air floating around the pommel horse — perhaps blame it on the bat which somehow made it inside the XL Center and flew around the arena throughout the night. Only one all-around contender made it through the pommel horse (long the U.S.’ weakest event) cleanly, Mikulak, who aims to become the fourth different man in as many years to win the U.S. all-around title.

“This is something that I’ve wanted to check off,” said Mikulak, the NCAA all-around champion and rising senior at Michigan.

Mikulak lived up to his nickname, signing at least one cell phone and high-fiving with the crowd between routines. His smile seemed pasted on from first event to final interview.

The same couldn’t be said for 2011 national champion Danell Leyva. The Olympic all-around bronze medalist continued his post-London struggles with a rough start on the pommel horse and fell twice on the parallel bars, an event in which he’s the currrent world champion. Leyva came back strong on his last event, high bar, but the damage was done and he is in sixth place.

John Orozco was the surprise of Friday night. The defending U.S. champion came into Hartford planning to perform only four of six events, 10 months after surgery to repair a torn ACL. Determined, he changed his mind and did all six Friday, sporting a knee brace. Orozco is in eighth place.

Exhaustion appeared to hit Orozco on the final rotation, when he skipped warm-ups for floor exercise. He ended up performing and hit his routine, but the damage of a two-fall pommel horse performance kept him way back in the overall standings.

The specialists showed up big Friday. Olympic alternate Alex Naddour proved his World Championship capability on the pommel horse with a massive 15.45 to go along with his third-place standing in the all around. Steven Legendre leads on floor exercise with a 15.9, an event he made the world finals in two years ago.

Both men made early cases to be chosen for the World Championship team, but there’s more work left Sunday.

1. Sam Mikulak, Ann Arbor, Mich., 91.650
2. Jake Dalton, Norman, Okla., 88.700
3. Alexander Naddour, Queen Creek, Ariz., 87.900
4. Joshua Dixon, Colorado Springs, Colo., 87.450
5. Steven Legendre, Norman, Okla., 87.100
6. Danell Leyva, Homestead, Fla., 86.900
7. Brandon Wynn, Columbus, Ohio, 86.700
8. John Orozco, Colorado Springs, Colo., 86.650
8. Akash Modi, Morganville, N.J., 86.650
10. Donnell Whittenburg, Colorado Springs, Colo., 86.550

Floor exercise
1. Steven Legendre, Norman, Okla., 15.900
2. Eddie Penev, Penfield, N.Y., 15.800
3. Stacey Ervin, Ann Arbor, Mich., 15.750
4. Paul Ruggeri III, Manlius, N.Y., 15.650
5. Sam Mikulak, Ann Arbor, Mich., 15.350

Pommel horse
1. Alexander Naddour, Queen Creek, Ariz., 15.450
2. Sam Mikulak, Ann Arbor, Mich., 15.200
3. Michael Newburger, Columbus, Ohio, 14.900
4. Luke Stannard, Urbana, Ill., 14.600
5. Donothan Bailey, Berkeley, Calif., 14.300

Still rings
1. Brandon Wynn, Columbus, Ohio, 15.750
2. Michael Squires, Edmond, Okla., 15.400
3. Alexander Naddour, Queen Creek, Ariz., 15.200
3. Steven Lacombe, Sunnyvale, Calif., 15.200
5. Jake Dalton, Norman, Okla., 15.150

1. Sean Senters, Stanford, Calif., 15.350
1. Eddie Penev, Penfield, N.Y., 15.350
3. Neal Courter, Baton Rouge, La., 15.300
4. Jake Dalton, Norman, Okla., 15.250
5. Sam Mikulak, Ann Arbor, Mich., 15.200

Parallel bars
1. Jake Dalton, Norman, Okla., 15.450
2. Sam Mikulak, Ann Arbor, Mich., 15.350
3. Sean Melton, Colorado Springs, Colo., 15.050
4. Brian Knott, New York, N.Y., 15.000
5. Adrian de los Angeles, Ann Arbor, Mich., 14.850

High bar
1. John Orozco, Colorado Springs, Colo., 15.600
1. Sam Mikulak, Ann Arbor, Mich., 15.600
3. Danell Leyva, Homestead, Fla., 15.300
4. Joshua Dixon, Colorado Springs, Colo., 15.150
5. Jake Dalton, Norman, Okla., 15.100

Biles leads women’s competition heading to final night

Bobby Joe Morrow, triple Olympic sprint champion, dies at 84

Bobby Joe Morrow
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Bobby Joe Morrow, one of four men to win the 100m, 200m and 4x100m at one Olympics, died at age 84 on Saturday.

Morrow’s family said he died of natural causes.

Morrow swept the 100m, 200m and 4x100m at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, joining Jesse Owens as the only men to accomplish the feat. Later, Carl Lewis and Usain Bolt did the same.

Morrow, raised on a farm in San Benito, Texas, set 11 world records in a short career, according to World Athletics.

He competed in one Olympics, and that year was named Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year while a student at Abilene Christian. He beat out Mickey Mantle and Floyd Patterson.

“Bobby had a fluidity of motion like nothing I’d ever seen,” Oliver Jackson, the Abilene Christian coach, said, according to Sports Illustrated in 2000. “He could run a 220 with a root beer float on his head and never spill a drop. I made an adjustment to his start when Bobby was a freshman. After that, my only advice to him was to change his major from sciences to speech, because he’d be destined to make a bunch of them.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Johnny Gregorek runs fastest blue jeans mile in history

Johnny Gregorek
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Johnny Gregorek, a U.S. Olympic hopeful runner, clocked what is believed to be the fastest mile in history for somebody wearing jeans.

Gregorek recorded a reported 4 minutes, 6.25 seconds, on Saturday to break the record by more than five seconds (with a pacer for the first two-plus laps). Gregorek, after the record run streamed live on his Instagram, said he wore a pair of 100 percent cotton Levi’s.

Gregorek, the 28-year-old son of a 1980 and 1984 U.S. Olympic steeplechaser, finished 10th in the 2017 World Championships 1500m. He was sixth at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials.

He ranked No. 1 in the country for the indoor mile in 2019, clocking 3:49.98. His outdoor mile personal best is 3:52.94, ranking him 30th in American history.

Before the attempt, a fundraiser was started for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, garnering more than $29,000. Gregorek ran in memory of younger brother Patrick, who died suddenly in March 2019.

“Paddy was a fan of anything silly,” Gregorek posted. “I think an all out mile in jeans would tickle him sufficiently!”

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