HOUSTON – Kyson Bunthuwong (El Cerrito, Calif.), the 2004 U.S. junior champ (14-15 age group), won his first J.O. national title today at the Men’s Junior Olympic (J.O.) National Championships.
Bunthuwong, who has signed with Cal-Berkeley for the 2006 season, earned a perfect 10.0 on pommel horse on his way to a 112.875 two-day total.
“That was a first ever, for me,” Bunthuwong said of his perfect mark, the first in J.O. history. “I was mostly in shock, ’cause I didn’t even know those came. I still think I can do better, though. USA [Championships] is next, and I’m going to try and win that too.”
On his way to the win, Bunthuwong bested last year’s J.O. champ Bryan Del Castillo (Laguna Niguel, Calif.) and Ohio State-recruit Jake Bateman. Prelim leader Jason Chu finished fourth.
A pair of locals – Cypress gymnasts Andre Berry and Bryant Hadden – finished ninth and tenth, respectively.
In the 14-15 age division, last year’s Level 9 (ages 12-13) champ Philip Onorato (Plano, Texas) added another J.O. title to his collection.
“He came in and you just knew he was going to win it,” said Onorato’s coach, Sergei Pakanich. “You could see it in his eyes. Confidence was just falling off of him coming here… He has everything—the talent, the work ethic. I see a great, great future for him.”
Second went to Ryan Lieberman (Chicago, Ill.), followed by Onorato’s teammate, Tim Gentry (Dallas).
The top 12 age-eligible athletes advance to the Visa Championships in August.
LEVEL 10, 16-18:
Bunthuwong (Golden Bear), Del Castillo (South Coast), Bateman (Premier Athletics), Chu (SCATS), Seung Tai Lee (Orlando Metro), Joe Catrambone (Temple), Mel Anton-Santander (Massachusetts Gym Center), Andre Berry (Cypress), Torrance Laury (Atlanta School), Lucas Hughes (5280), Daniel Hawk (Las Vegas Flyers) and Benjamin Baldus-Strauss (Midwest).
LEVEL 10, 14-18:
Onorato (WOGA), Lieberman, Gentry (WOGA), Chris Cameron (Florida Flips), Miguel Pineda (Hocking Valley), Stephen VanHuss (WOGA), Josh Dixon (Cal Sports Center), Kyle Bunthuwong (Golden Bear), Tim Pittman (Cypress), Russell DaBritz (Ace), Zeke Jackson (World Class) and Daniel Geri (California Gym).
In the youngest age group (12-13), Universal Gymnastics’ athletes Edward Mesa (Cooper City, Fla.) and Danell Leyva (Miami) led the field, finishing one-two for the second night in a row. Third went to New Mexico’s Christopher Maestas.
“This means a lot, actually,” Mesa, 14, said of his win. “I’ve been aiming at this for three years now. In that time, I’ve learned how to compete, gained a lot of confidence, just learned a lot mentally, physically, everything. It’s all clicked now. Finally.”
U.S. Junior National Team:
The top 14 gymnasts in this age group were named to the U.S. Junior National Team – Mesa, Leyva, Maestas (Gold Cup), Joshua Wilson (WOGA), Michael Volpe (USA Gym), Maximilian Mayr (Universal), David Dyckman (Peninsula), Glenn McCuen (WOGA), Presten Ellsworth (WOGA), Kyle Voissem (Swiss Turners), Chris Stehl (Cypress) and Jacoby Rubin (Buffalo Grove).
J.O. competition concludes on Sunday with event final competition in all age groups.
Tickets are available at the George R. Brown Convention Center box office for $10 per day.
For those that can’t attend, real time online scoring will be available at ww.meetscoresonline.com.
For more information visit www.jonationals.com/ or contact event media coordinator Susan Williams at email@example.com (media inquiries only).