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Horton Wins U.S. Championships
(8 votes, average 4.50 out of 5)

IG Editor Dwight Normile blogs from the 2009 Visa (U.S.) Gymnastics Championships in Dallas, where Jonathan Horton won his first national all-around title Friday.

DALLAS — On a night when the race to 2012 began for the U.S. men's program, Jonathan Horton earned his first senior national title and blitzed the field.

The recently married Houston resident started the meet by matching his 15.80 on rings from Thursday, and then proceeded to pad his lead with each rotation. He nearly stuck his handspring-double front for a 16.30, but the scores would be irrelevant for Horton tonight, who continued to rock each event. By the time he reached his final event, pommels, he had nearly a 5.0 lead over Tim McNeill. So when Horton fell before his dismount, he let out a wry smile. His weak event had got him, a glitch he will surely work on between now and the world championships in October. Still, his winning 181.900 was untouchable.

2009 U.S. champion Jonathan Horton

"As the meet went on I got more and more tired," said Horton, who promised he would be in top shape to challenge for a world all-around medal in nine weeks. "I'm really happy with where I am right now."

As good as Horton was, defending champion David Sender wasn't. In what was likely his final meet, Sender landed his Yurchenko-double pike on hands and feet and the collapse was on. He missed his free hip mount on p-bars, his layout Tkatchev on high bar, a punch front on floor and his pommel horse dismount. He closed his career with a hit set on rings and showed a relieved smile that a frustrating night — and perhaps his gymnastics career — was finally over.

"I was dealing with a lot of stuff today," said Sender, who had pulled his hamstring on Wednesday. "I had a sudden realization that this was the last time I was (competing), and it kind of distracted me."

Despite his 10th-place finish, Sender easily made the national team, from which he must officially resign if he indeed has retired. Afterward, however, he said he will still think about retaining that status as he begins veterinary school at the University of Illinois in September.

McNeill took advantage of the opening near the top by grabbing second with a 178.500 total, including a 90.00 tonight.

"I went in with the attitude that I was capable of finishing in the top three or even winning," said McNeill, who gives the U.S. a strong parallel bars and pommel horse worker. "So I had that in mind all through training and in preparation for this. That was always the hope, and I'm just thrilled that it happened."

Wes Haagensen, who moved to the USOTC after finishing at Illinois, placed third by going 10-for-12.

Named to the national team based on a points system: Horton (111), Danell Leyva (66), McNeill (64), Kyle Bunthuwong (60), Sender (55), Joseph Hagerty (53), Haagensen (51), Steven Legendre (50), Glen Ishino (38) and Tim Gentry (37). Five more gymnasts will be added to the team.

Cool Skills...

  • Sender ( landed his Yurchenko-double pike with hands down and did not do a second vault this time. In the press conference on Thursday, he said it really hurts to land that vault low.
  • Gentry (Stanford): handspring-piked double front — for a fifth pass (out of six)
  • Brandon Wynn (Ohio State): running front-full, double front
  • Jake Dalton (Gym Nevada): Kasamatsu-double twist (Lopez)
  • John Orozco (World Cup): on p-bars, front 1-1/4 to front uprise reverse cut; tucked full-out


  • Fifteen gymnasts will qualify for the national team: top 10 from an MPC-approved National Team Points System (based on individual event rankings); four will be selected by the Men's Program Committee; and one will be selected by the National Team Coordinator.
  • The crowd was relatively sparse for this meet, which was the most exciting of the week.
  • The men's field featured 38 gymnasts, twice as many as the women's field last night. Who said women's gymnastics was more popular than men's?
  • Sender flashed a big smile when he was introduced to the crowd as representing, in honor of his good friend and former Stanford teammate, who is recovering from a torn ACL.
  • The new women's Code limits gymnasts to four tumbling passes on floor; but the men's Code only applies a time limit. The result? An average of six passes, rushed press handstands and no interesting corner transitions. Men's floor deserves better.
  • Yin Alvarez, the demonstrative coach of the Universal gymnasts, is very hands-on — and lips-on. He kisses his gymnasts on the head before each routine.
  • Legendre (Oklahoma) seems to be a combination of Justin Spring and Dmitry Karbanenko; powerful, quick and a triple off high bar.

External Link: USA Gymnastics

Comments (2)add comment

Vicki said:

Good for Horton -- strange that it's his first national title.

Too bad about Sender. This might be why they didn't just name him to the Olympic team though. It's so much harder to hit when everything is on the line, so he really needed one more good meet after winning Nationals last year.

The points system seems to work for this year's selection (b/c Worlds are individual competition) but it's somewhat deceiving when selecting a team. It would be good to have a points system that somehow reflects the MARGIN of victory. For example, if the winner on each event receives ten points, then the others would receive points according to how many tenths behind him they finished (if three tenths behind, they would receive 9.7; if three points behind, they would receive 7 points). It would show a little better how valuable each score is to the team. It would also encourage gymnasts to do more events, which will be necessary with the five-member team.
August 15, 2009
Votes: +0

diane lee said:

not sure
you are kidding right about ur comment about womens gymnastics being more popular?? Yes it is and it the number of althles competing at this years nationals doe not relfect popularity. It reflects that the age limit should be CHANGED. How many women are injured and could not compete. If you lower the age limit like it was we would have several juniors competing as seniors. So sorry Womens IS more popular than mens and it does not have anything to do with the number this year...
August 15, 2009 | url
Votes: +0

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