By the end of the day Saturday, the group of five men selected to represent the United States in gymnastics at the Tokyo Olympics will be named. That includes four members for the all-around team competition and one individual specialist.
On Thursday, four men emerged as the frontrunners for the team spots. The group is led by 2021 all-around national champion Brody Malone, followed by former world championship team members Shane Wiskus and Yul Moldauer and two-time Olympian Sam Mikulak.
The top finisher earns an automatic spot on the Tokyo team and the No. 2 finisher does as well, provided that he finishes in the top three on three of the six apparatuses. The specialist spot and the final two team spots will be selected by committee.
Malone and Mikulak tied for the highest score on floor exercise on Day 1 at 14.600, and Malone topped the high bar ranks with a 14.450. Malone was second on rings with a 14.200 and third on parallel bars with a 14.100 (and 10th on pommel horse). If he can hit six more clean routines, he likely has the automatic Olympic spot locked up.
The race then will be for second, and to see who else can make a case for the top four. Malone’s teammate Brandon Briones, who was in fifth on Day 1, was half a point behind Mikulak. Akash Modi, a 2016 Olympic alternate, was just .150 behind in sixth place.
As for the individual spot, pommel horse specialist Alec Yoder made the case for himself with a stunning routine on Day 1. Veteran Donnell Whittenburg, too, showed out on vault and could be under consideration.
Once competition ends, the selection committee has 30 minutes to select the team.
Moldauer starts Day 2 on floor, Mikulak and Wiskus start on rings, and Malone, Modi and Briones will be on parallel bars.