By Doug Padilla
ANAHEIM, California – A blend of seasoned veterans and bright-eyed newcomers will join forces as USA Gymnastics on Sunday named its men’s team for the 2017 World Championships.
Olympians Sam Mikulak and Alex Naddour will provide veteran the leadership for a group that will included newly-crowned national all-around champion Yul Moldauer and 2016 Olympic alternate Donnell Whittenburg, who finished third in all-around at this weekend’s P&G Gymnastics Championships in Anaheim.
Other members of the team are Marvin Kimble, who finished ninth at the national championships and Eddie Penev, who had strong showings this past week in floor exercise and vault.
Alternates include Allan Bower, who was the all-around runner-up at the national championships, and Colin VanWicklen, who was in contention late at Anaheim before ultimately finishing sixth in all-around. Bower and VanWicklen are University of Oklahoma teammates with Moldauer. The final alternate is Akash Modi of Stanford, who was second in all-around heading into the final day of competition before ultimately slipping to fourth.
The group will leave for a world team camp in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Sept. 5-10. The World Championships take place Oct 2-8 in Montreal.
“It’s the first year after the Olympic Games and it’s a brand new group of guys, so we will try to give everybody a clean slate and start right now with this World Championships,” said Brett McClure, the high performance director at USA Gymnastics.
Individual events and lineups for the World Championships will be decided after the team’s performance at the world team camp.
“This team is young and definitely impressionable, and they’re 100 percent bought in,” McClure said. “The biggest thing I am most thankful for is our leadership right now from the two veterans that are still here. Sam and Alex have done a phenomenal job kind of telling these younger guys that we do need to make some changes and this is the direction we need to be going, giving an extra comfort level or faith. The new way we are doing things is beneficial and exciting to see.”