Brody Malone leads at Olympic gymnastics trials; Shane Wiskus makes major comeback

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Brody Malone proved his surprising U.S. Gymnastics Championships victory earlier this month — at the first senior nationals of his career — was far from a fluke, once again leading the rest of the domestic competition halfway through the U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Trials.

With six more clean routines on Saturday, the 21-year-old would have a guaranteed spot on the Olympic team, almost a full point ahead as day one concluded on Thursday night. The cumulative winner when the men’s event ends will lock in a spot on the Olympic team, and so will the runner-up, provided that person finishes top three in at least three events in St. Louis, Missouri.

Malone has an all-around score of 85.25 points.

A 2019 and 2021 NCAA all-around champion for Stanford, he is setting himself up to contribute to the U.S. team final on the most events, having notched the top score on high bar (14.45), tied for first on floor exercise (14.6), and in second on still rings (14.2) and third on parallel bar (14.1).

Just behind Malone, and perhaps the bigger story of the night, was Shane Wiskus with 84.3 points.

Wiskus had the most devastating finish to the 2021 U.S. Championships, and 18 days later he returned to the competition floor for the most redemptive start to the Olympic Trials.

In second place after 11 of 12 events in Fort Worth, Texas, Wiskus ended the event with a shocking high bar routine that included three falls. He dropped to ninth in the all-around.

This time, Wiskus was clean across the board – including the third-highest-scoring high bar routine (13.8) – and had the best night of his career when it mattered most, scoring 84.3 points.

GYMNASTICS TRIALS: Results | TV Schedule | Men’s Preview | Women’s Preview

The recent University of Minnesota grad has never finished higher than fourth in the all-around at U.S. Championships.

“He’s got something going for him,” 1984 Olympic team champion Tim Daggett said of Wiskus on the NBCSN broadcast. “He does not lack confidence, he never has. He shouldn’t because he’s got tremendous ability.”

If all athletes were to repeat their performances on day two, Wiskus would ensure his spot on the four-man Olympic team; he had the highest score on parallel bars (14.5), was third on both vault (14.6) and high bar (13.8).

Yul Moldauer, the 2017 U.S. all-around and two-time U.S. silver medalist, sits third with 83.65 points. He was second on both parallel bars (14.4) and pommel horse (14.1).

Contending for his third Olympic team, Sam Mikulak is fourth with 83.2 points. The six-time national champion tied Malone for the high score on floor and was second-best on high bar (13.85).

Brandon Briones, a rising junior at Stanford and teammate of Malone’s, rounds out the top five with 82.7 points. He was fourth at his first senior nationals in Fort Worth.

The other all-arounders who have been in the Olympic team mix have an uphill climb to remain as such: 2016 Olympic alternate Akash Modi is in sixth (82.55) and no better than tied for fourth on any particular event and three-time World team alternate Allan Bower is right behind him (82.5) but third on pommel horse (14.05)

Colin Van Wicklen, who competed on three events in the 2018 Worlds team final and won four U.S. event medals between the 2017 and 2018 U.S. Championships, was injured during warmups and withdrew before the start of competition.

In addition to the four-person Olympic team, the U.S. men also qualified one individual spot for Tokyo. That spot will likely be filled by an event specialist, and several remain in the running.

After missing the U.S. Championships while he was in Rio — being an alternate for the team at Pan American Championships — 2016 Olympic alternate Donnell Whittenburg added his name to the conversation, landing the highest score on vault (15.05) by 0.35 points. He hasn’t had this strong of a showing since winning vault and placing third in the all-around at the 2017 U.S. Championships; Whittenburg earned the bronze medal on vault at the 2015 World Championships. Fourteenth in the all-around, Whittenburg also had the third-highest score on rings (14.1).

Pommel horse has long been the U.S. men’s weakest event, but two powerhouses have emerged in the last couple years as favorites to go to Tokyo: Stephen Nedoroscik and Alec Yoder.

Nedoroscik won the U.S. title on the event in Fort Worth — outscoring Yoder both days — but came off the horse at Trials for a one-point deduction. His 13.65 points (fifth best) may have made things clearer for the selection committee.

“I tried my hardest,” Nedoroscik said to the camera. “I got lost in the moment, type of thing… I have to be happy with what I did and I’m happy to be here. … There’s always Saturday, so stay tuned.”

Yoder lived up to the pressure a few rotations later, scoring 15.05 points — higher than either of his scores from nationals — and was nearly a full point ahead of Moldauer, who was second.

“It didn’t impact me,” Yoder told NBC reporter Andrea Joyce of Nedoroscik’s fall. “In gymnastics, you never want that to happen for anybody.”

“All the hard work is paying off,” he continued about his own performance, “so such a great feeling. … I just have to keep swinging. I know what I can do on this event and I want to prove it.”

Yoder also competes on parallel bars and was tied for eighth there with a score of 13.9.

Alex Diab and Gage Dyer are the remaining specialists in contention. Diab had the highest rings score (14.5), which was just 0.3 points ahead of second-place Malone, and Dyer, who was second on floor and third on vault at nationals, tied for fifth on both of his events this time.

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U.S. women win record 27th consecutive FIBA World Cup game

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SYDNEY — There’s been a long legacy of success for the U.S. women’s basketball team at the World Cup.

The names change over time, but the results don’t seem to.

Kelsey Plum scored 20 points, Chelsea Gray added 16 and the United States routed Bosnia and Herzegovina 121-59 on Tuesday to break the team record for consecutive wins at the World Cup.

The victory was the 27th in a row in World Cup play for the Americans, who haven’t lost since the 2006 semifinals against Russia. The U.S. won 26 in a row from 1994-2006 leading up to that game. The Soviet Union holds the World Cup record with 56 straight wins from 1959-86.

“It’s kind of amazing,” said Breanna Stewart, who has been part of the last three World Cup teams. “Obviously, been here for some of it, but you understand the legends before that who really kind of started the streak. It goes to show that no matter who is playing on USA Basketball, we’re always trying to chase excellence.

“This streak doesn’t mean much right now because we’re going into the quarterfinals and focusing on winning a gold medal, but it’s something to kind of hang your hat on later.”

What started with Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi and Sylvia Fowles has now been passed on to Stewart and A’ja Wilson. A legacy of excellence that doesn’t appear it will end anytime soon.

“The players change and, you know, there was a lot of concern about who’s next,” U.S. coach Cheryl Reeve said. “It was a concern when Dawn Staley and Lisa Leslie were playing and who was going to be next. Then it was Sue and (Taurasi) and then other great players, too. Now with this group they are saying, hey, we’re pretty good, too.”

MORE: FIBA World Cup Schedule, Results

The U.S. last lost a group play game in 1975, according to Bill Mallon of Olympedia.org.

“We know the responsibility when you put on this jersey. There’s a lot more than yourself,” Plum said. “Everyone puts pride to the side. We have a common goal. We have some amazing players on this team.”

The Americans (5-0) won their pool games by an average of 46.2 points and never trailed in any of them. Now they play Serbia in the quarterfinals.

The U.S. was coming off a record rout of South Korea in which the team broke the World Cup record for points with 145. While the Americans didn’t match that number, they put the game out of reach in the first 10 minutes, going up 33-15.

The lead ballooned to 63-31 at halftime. Bosnia and Herzegovina put together a small run to start the third quarter, but the U.S. scored the final 19 points of the period.

Once again they used a dominant inside performance, outscoring Bosnia and Herzegovina 84-28 in the paint led by Wilson, Stewart and Brionna Jones.

“It’s a huge part of our identity,” Reeve said. “Ninety-whatever we had yesterday and 84 today, we just know what we’re good at and we have players that are really understanding their opportunities for that.”

The U.S. was missing Jewell Loyd, whom the team said was resting. Kahleah Copper started in her place and finished with 11 points.

Nikolina Elez scored 19 points to lead the Bosniaks (0-5), who were playing in their first World Cup.

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2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup schedule, results

FIBA Women's World Cup
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The U.S. goes for its fourth consecutive title at the FIBA World Cup in Sydney — and eighth global gold in a row overall when including the Olympics.

A’ja Wilson, a two-time WNBA MVP, and Breanna Stewart, the Tokyo Olympic MVP, headline a U.S. roster that, for the first time since 2000, includes neither Sue Bird (retired) nor Diana Taurasi (injured).

The new-look team includes nobody over the age of 30 for the first time since 1994, before the U.S. began its dynasty at the 1996 Atlanta Games. The Americans have won 52 consecutive games between worlds and the Olympics dating to the 2006 Worlds bronze-medal game.

The field also includes host Australia, the U.S.’ former primary rival, and Olympic silver medalist Japan.

Nigeria, which played the U.S. the closest of any foe in Tokyo (losing by nine points), isn’t present after its federation withdrew the team over governance issues. Spain, ranked second in the world, failed to qualify.

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2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup Schedule

Date Time (ET) Game Round
Wed., Sept. 21 8:30 p.m. Puerto Rico 82, Bosnia and Herzegovina 58 Group A
9:30 p.m. USA 87, Belgium 72 Group A
11 p.m. Canada 67, Serbia 60 Group B
Thurs., Sept. 22 12 a.m. Japan 89, Mali 56 Group B
3:30 a.m. China 107, South Korea 44 Group A
6:30 a.m. France 70, Australia 57 Group B
8:30 p.m. USA 106, Puerto Rico 42 Group A
10 p.m. Serbia 69, Japan 64 Group B
11 p.m. Belgium 84, South Korea 61 Group A
Fri., Sept. 23 12:30 a.m. China 98, Bosnia and Herzegovina 51 Group A
4 a.m. Canada 59, France 45 Group B
6:30 a.m. Australia 118, Mali 58 Group B
Sat., Sept. 24 12:30 a.m. USA 77, China 63 Group A
4 a.m. South Korea 99, Bosnia and Herzegovina 66 Group A
6:30 a.m. Belgium 68, Puerto Rico 65 Group A
Sun., Sept. 25 12:30 a.m. France 74, Mali 59 Group B
4 a.m. Australia 69, Serbia 54 Group B
6:30 a.m. Canada 70, Japan 56 Group B
9:30 p.m. Belgium 85, Bosnia and Herzegovina 55 Group A
11:30 p.m. Serbia 81, Mali 68 Group B
Mon., Sept. 26 12 a.m. USA 145, South Korea 69 Group A
2 a.m. France 67, Japan 53 Group B
3:30 a.m. China 95, Puerto Rico 60 Group A
6:30 a.m. Australia 75, Canada 72 Group B
9:30 p.m. Puerto Rico 92, South Korea 73 Group A
11:30 p.m. China 81, Belgium 55 Group A
Tues., Sept. 27 12 a.m. USA 121, Bosnia and Herzegovina 59 Group A
2 a.m. Canada 88, Mali 65 Group B
3:30 a.m. Serbia 68, France 62 Group B
6:30 a.m. Australia 71, Japan 54 Group B
Wed., Sept. 28 10 p.m. USA vs. Serbia
Thurs., Sept. 29 12:30 a.m. Canada vs. Puerto Rico
4 a.m. China vs. France
6:30 a.m. Australia vs. Belgium
Fri., Sept. 30 3 a.m. Semifinal
5:30 a.m. Semifinal
11 p.m. Third-Place Game
Sat., Oct. 1 2 a.m. Final