The Norman Transcript

National Sports

August 19, 2013

Michigan’s Mikulak cruises to U.S. men’s gymnastics title

(Continued)

HARTFORD, Conn. —

Jake Dalton was third. Defending champion John Orozco finished fourth in his first major competition since undergoing surgery to repair a torn ACL in his left knee last October.

Danell Leyva, the all-around bronze medalist in London last summer, finished seventh.

Ultimately, the rest of a deep field was playing for second, and they knew it.

“I would have liked to catch up to Sam,” Dalton said. “I was hoping to hit my routines. I had a few mistakes. Once you had a few mistakes, you know you’re not going to be up there.”

Even if no American is quite in Mikulak’s league at the moment. Mikulak is undefeated in competition this year, the Big Ten and NCAA title this spring then backing it up by draining any drama out of the biggest meet since London.

Not ready to put things on cruise control after opening up a 2.950-point lead over Dalton on Friday night, Mikulak put on a show during in the finals, widening his advantage quickly.

Normally so laid back it looks as if he’s hanging out at the mall rather than competing at his sport’s highest level, Mikulak let loose as the day wore on.

He pumped his fist several times after drilling his floor exercise routine.

“I was stoked,” Mikulak said. “Floor is more personal. You put more of yourself into it. It was fun to hit that one.”

A sentiment echoed by Naddour, who has resurrected his career a year after failing to make the Olympic team.

Considered a specialist on the pommel horse — an event the U.S. has struggled in for three decades —Naddour slipped by Dalton, the co-favorite, to cement a spot alongside Mikulak on the world championship team.

It’s sweet redemption for Naddour, who did some serious soul searching after struggling last summer.

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