INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – 2005 U.S. all-around champ Todd Thornton of Houston, 2006 Tyson American Cup champ Jonathan Horton of Houston, and 2006 Tyson American Cup bronze-medalist David Durante of Garfield, N.J., are among the 81 male gymnasts competing in the 2006 Visa Championships, Aug. 16-19, at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn.

Thornton, who is a member of Team Chevron, is looking to defend his title. Horton, who competes for the University of Oklahoma, has had a solid 2006 so far. He won the NCAA all-around title, as well as placing second in the all-around at the France/Switzerland/USA tri-country meet. Durante, who is also a member of Team Chevron and trains at the U.S. Olympic Training Center, was third in the all-around at the France/Switzerland/USA three-country meet and tied for third on the parallel bars at the 2006 Pacific Alliance Championships.
In addition to Horton and Durante, the field includes several other gymnasts who have competed internationally this year: Sean Golden of Camden, N.J./Team Chevron, who was second on vault at the World Cup event in Moscow and a member of the 2005 World Championships Team; David Sender of Arlington Heights, Ill./Stanford University, who competed at the 2006 Pacific Alliance Championships; and Justin Spring of Burke, Va./Team Chevron, who made it to the finals in the horizontal and parallel bars at the World Cup event in Ghent and was a member of the 2005 World Championships Team. Raj Bhavsar of Houston /Team Chevron, the alternate for the men’s team for the 2004 Olympic Games, is also in the field.
Four gymnasts in the field have ties to the Twin Cities area: Guillermo Alvarez of Denver, who is a graduate of the University of Minnesota and now competes for Team Chevron; Micah Elofson of Minneapolis, who trains at TAGS-Eden Prairie (junior, 14-15); Jake Lee of Saratoga Springs, Utah, who competes for the University of Minnesota; and Clay Strother of Jasper, Texas, who also competed for the University of Minnesota and now competes for Team Chevron.
The Visa Championships is USA Gymnastics’ annual national championships and determines the U.S. national champions for men’s and women’s artistic gymnastics and rhythmic gymnastics. Artistic gymnastics will be held at the Xcel Energy Center. Rhythmic gymnastics and acrobatic gymnastics are set for the Legendary Roy Wilkins Auditorium. Acrobatic gymnastics is holding its national team trials in conjunction with the Visa Championships. The USA Gymnastics National Congress and Trade Show will be held in the adjacent Saint Paul RiverCentre complex.

The fields for women’s and rhythmic gymnastics already have been announced.
Tickets for men’s and women’s artistic and rhythmic/acrobatic gymnastics sessions for the premier national gymnastics championships are on sale at the Xcel Energy Center Box Office, all Ticketmaster locations, charge by phone at (651) 989-5151 or online at For group ticket information, call (651) 312-3486. Visa is the only card accepted for the Visa Championships.
The Visa Championships traces its history back to 1897 for the men and 1931 for the women. 2006 is only the second time since 1963 that the championships have been held in the Twin Cities area and in the state. Minneapolis was the site of the 1989 competition.

About Visa USA Visa is the only card accepted for the Visa Championships and the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials. For USA Gymnastics’ other events, Visa is the preferred method of payment. Visa USA is the nation’s leading payment brand and largest payment system, enabling banks to provide their consumers and business customers with a wide variety of payment alternatives tailored to meet their evolving needs. Visa USA is committed to increasing the choice, convenience, acceptance, and security of Visa payments for all stakeholders in the payment system – Members, cardholders and merchants. Through its 13,420 Member financial institutions, more than 488 million Visa-branded cards have been issued to cardholders in the United States. Last year, U.S.-based financial institutions relied on Visa’s processing system, VisaNet, to facilitate $1.3 trillion in transactions with unparalleled reliability. Worldwide, cardholders in over 150 countries carry more than 1 billion Visa-branded cards, accounting for more than $3 trillion in annual transaction volume. Visa offers a trusted, reliable and convenient way to access and mobilize financial resources – anytime, anywhere, anyway.

About Xcel Energy Center
The five-year-old Xcel Energy Center and the Saint Paul RiverCentre Convention and Visitor’s Authority have been very successful in a short period of time at bringing high-profile events, such as the Visa Championships, to the Twin Cities community. Since opening in September 2000 with the first-ever Minnesota Wild NHL hockey game, the Xcel Energy Center has hosted the 2002 NCAA Frozen Four, 2001-06 WCHA Final Five Hockey Tournaments, 2003 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs, 2003-04 TJ Maxx Tour of Gymnastics Champions, 2004-05 Campbell’s International Figure Skating Classic and 2004 NHL All-Star Weekend.

Men’s field for the 2006 Visa Championships

By state, information shows name, hometown/club, division


Tyler Block, Kensington, Calif./UC – Berkeley (Sr.)
Kyle Bunthuwong, El Cerrito, Calif./Golden Bear Gymnastics (14-15)
Kyson Bunthuwong, El Cerrito, Calif./UC – Berkeley (Sr.)
Bryan Del Castillo, Laguna Niguel, Calif./New Hope Academy (Sr.)
Josh Dixon, San Jose, Calif./Champions Academy (14-15)
Francisco Grey, Long Beach, Calif./SCATS HB (16-18)
Eric Haeussler, Redwood City, Calif./San Mateo Gymnastics (16-18)
Glen Ishino, Santa Ana, Calif./SCATS – HB (14-15)
Jason Laughton, Northridge, Calif./University of Oklahoma (Sr.)
Brian Lee, Freemont, Calif./Army Gymnastics (Sr.)
Sho Nakamori, Albany, Calif./Stanford University (Sr.)
Kyle Oi, Coto de Caza, Calif./New Hope Academy (16-18)
Andrew Stover, Fullerton, Calif./SCATS HB (16-18)
Kevin Tan, Fremont, Calif./Team Chevron (Sr.)
Neal Thompson, Woodside, Calif./San Mateo Gymnastics (14-15)

Guillermo Alvarez, Denver, Colo./Team Chevron (Sr.)
Alexander Artemev, Morrison, Colo./Team Chevron (Sr.)
Geoffrey Corrigan, Colorado Springs, Colo./Team Chevron (Sr.)
Michael Jiang, Littleton, Colo./Chatfield Gymnastics (16-18)

Michael Almazan, Miami, Fla./Gattaca – Universal Gymnastics (16-18)
Ari Barrera, Miami, Fla./Gattaca – Universal Gymnastics (16-18)
Kinkuro Broden, Miami, Fla./Gattaca – Universal Gymnastics (16-18)
Chris Cameron, Winter Haven, Fla./Sun Country / Florida Flips (16-18)
Derek Helsby, Orlando, Fla./Penn State University (Sr.)
Danell Leyva, Miami, Fla./Gattaca – Universal Gymnastics (14-15)
Edward Mesa, Cooper City, Fla./Gattaca – Universal Gymnastics (14-15)
Michael Reavis, Tallahassee, Fla./HGA/GymMasters (Sr.)