Bryan Del Castillo (Laguna Niguel, Calif./South Coast Gymnastics) and Derek Helsby (Orlando, Fla./Houston Gymnastics Academy) lead the all-around contest in the junior men’s elite II and I divisions, respectively, after the preliminary competition in the VISA U.S. Gymnastics Championships.

Del Castillo, who was in eleventh place after the first rotation, shot to first with an 8.875 on vault in the second rotation, where he remained through the rest of the competition. His best effort, an 8.925 on the parallel bars, came in the third rotation where his clean body line and double pike dismount easily won him the event title. On high bar, he threw a Tkatchev, an in-bar Endo to healy and a stuck double layout dismount to maintain his lead on the field. Despite a fall on his final event, pommel horse, Del Castillo’s all-around total of 51.325 was the highest out of both age groups.

“It got a little rough at the end,” Del Castillo, who was third last year, said. “I messed up a couple things last year and that motivated me because I knew I could have won.”

One of four juniors from his club, Cole Storer (Plano, Texas/World Olympic Gymnastics) stands in second, .025 out of first. Storer’s only break came on his first event, floor exercise, where he put his hands down on his first combination tumbling pass (one and a half twist to front layout to Rudi). He made up ground on his second event, pommel horse, where he showed clean extension through the entire exercise. His highest score of the day came on vault, where he showed a clean Yurchenko 1 ½.

“I’m pretty happy with how I did today,” Storer said. “I hit all my events with the exception of a fall on floor at the beginning, but everything else went really well. It was more fun to compete with all of my teammates, because you had other people cheering for you, too.”

Mel Anto Santander (South Borough, Mass./Massachusetts Gymnastics Center) is currently in third place. He scored consistently above 8.300 on five out of six events, including scores of 8.900 on vault (stuck Yurchenko-full) and an 8.950 on pommel horse.

In the Junior Elite I (16-18) category, Helsby jumped past Seung Tai Lee (Orlando, Fla./Orlando Gymnastics) and Wesley Aderhold (Dallas, Texas/World Olympic Gymnastics) in the final rotation with an 8.500 score on the parallel bsrs despite a missed dismount. He was clean elsewhere, and threw the only Kovacs release on high bar (8.400) of the entire competition.

“I was pretty happy with how the competition unfolded,” Aderhold said, “but it was kind of a disappointing ending.”

Tai Lee jumped from 36th after two rotations to second, thanks to the highest score of the day, 9.350, on rings in the final rotation. Though his two events garnered him sub-8.000 scores, he rallied in the final four rotations with four solid routines. His rings score was the highest of the day out of all competitors.

Despite injuring his ankle prior to the competition, Aderhold currently sits in third, thanks to the highest vault score (9.200) of the day for a Yurchenko 1 ½.. Leading the Junior Elite I standings going into the final event, a fall on a Tkatchev on high bar knocked him to third.

“I rolled my ankle in warm-ups, and the trainer had to tape it up really tightly and I didn’t even think I would be able to compete,” he said. “But with all of the adrenaline, I didn’t really feel it today. “

According to USA Gymnastics selection procedures, the top 30 gymnasts in rank order all-around score using both the senior and junior all-around preliminary competition advance to the senior all-around final on Fri., June 4, in addition to event specialists. Should a junior competitor qualify to the Senior National Team, his score will be removed from the Junior standings.

In addition, junior-age gymnasts competing in the senior all-around preliminary are also eligible for Junior National Team berths, should they fail to make the Senior National Team.