Indianapolis, Ind.- The Romanian Team edged out the United States and China at the 2000 Pontiac International Team Championships, the first major gymnastics competition of the upcoming Olympic quadrennium. Romania scored 225.075, the U.S. came in second with 224.550 and China finished third with 223.825.
"The energy level was great tonight--the crowd was awesome," said Jamie Natalie. "We came in and hit our routines and did more than we expected tonight. I was really happy with my performance."
"The guys on our team were awesome to work with," said Brett McClure. "Everyone fed off each other's energy and we worked really well together."
"Tonight was awesome," said David Henderson. "This was my first international experience and I couldn't ask for anything more."
The Romanian team led for the entire competition, briefly faltering after the fourth rotation when the U.S. gained the lead after vault. Romania won the floor exercise, pommel horse and high bar. The U.S. won the parallel bars while the Chinese team took rings and vault.
Two-time Olympian Marian Dragulescu led the Romanians with the highest overall score of 57.5, almost a full point ahead of second place finisher McClure with 56.75. Romania's Rares Orzata finished in third place with 55.85.
"Competing in this event was a good test after the Olympics," said Dragulescu.
The top floor exercise score of the evening was posted by Dragulescu with 9.7. The pommel horse winner was Adrian Radoi with 9.675. There was a tie for top mark on rings between Rares Orzata of Romania and Zhao Zhe of China with 9.675. The highest vault score was a 9.8 for Zhang Shangwu's front handspring double front. The top parallel bars score came from Zhe Zhao with 9.6. The highest score of the evening on high bar was awarded to McClure with 9.675.
Competition was interrupted during the third rotation when David Henderson broke one of the pommels on the pommel horse during his routine. New pommels were brought in from Central New York Gymnastics and the U.S. finished the event after Rotation Six concluded. This has never happened before at an international meet.
"The pommel broke," said Henderson. "I was fighting and all of a sudden it was in my hand. It was so surprising."
Following was the men's roster for the 2000 Pontiac International Team Championships:
United States Men's Team
Mike Dutka, 22/Fairless Hills, Pa./Team Texaco-Houston, 1997 World Team Member
David Henderson, 18/Kansas City, Mo./Houston Gymnastics Academy
Brett McClure, 19/Mill Creek, Wash./Team Texaco-USOTC, 2000 Olympic Trials
Jamie Natalie, 21/Hockessin, Del./Ohio State University, 2000 Olympic Team
Todd Thornton, 18/Houston, Texas/Team Texaco-Houston, Junior National Champion
Guard Young, 23/Provo, Utah/University of Oklahoma, 2000 Olympic Trials
Chinese Men's Team
Romanian Men's Team
Marian Dragulescu *
Rares Orzata *
Ioan Suciu *
Adrian Radoi * 2000 Olympic Games Team Member
Tickets are available by calling Ticketmaster at 315-472-0700, the Oncenter box office at 315-435-2121, online at www.ticketmaster.com or from a participating gymnastics club. Discount coupons are available from the Syracuse Convention and Visitors Bureau and all Syracuse area Price Chopper locations. Single session tickets are $25, $17.50 and $12.50.