By John Powers
John Orozco picked up a $2,000 check for winning the senior all-around competition at the inaugural Elite Team Cup at Newark's Prudential Center on Saturday night but he viewed that as a bonus. "I didn't come here for the money," said the Olympian and two-time world team medalist. "I came here to get back on the podium."
Orozco still is on the comeback trail after re-tearing his Achilles tendon last summer and is working toward a return ticket to the Games in Rio de Janeiro. The Elite Team Cup, where he anchored a team of junior competitors, was another opportunity to test his progress.
"Kind of mentally getting in the game and becoming numb once again to this kind of atmosphere," said Orozco, who's expected to be named to the team for next month's Pacific Rim Championships in Everett, Wash., where he'd be defending the all-around title that he won two years ago. "Everyone's watching, wants to see what you're up to, if you're healthy. I was glad I was able to come out here."
Orozco won four of the six events (pommel horse, rings, parallel bars and horizontal bar) on the way to an 89.100-86.350 victory over Joshua Dixon, with Stacey Ervin placing third with 84.000.
Ervin, who finished in the top four in four events, spurred the Region 3 team representing Arkansas, Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Missouri, to a 345.750-340.750 triumph over Region 1. Ervin's teammates, who also claimed the junior team title, included Alexei Vernyi, Matthew Wenske, Tanner Justus, Davis Grooms, Blake Sun and David Pochinka.