HOUSTON – Fresh on the heels of Team USA’s silver medal Olympic performance last summer, the Olympians of tomorrow gather this week, May 4-8, at the George R. Brown Convention Center in downtown Houston for the 2005 Men’s Junior Olympic (J.O.) National Championships. Gymnasts will compete in three age groups for regional team, all-around and event final titles Thursday through Sunday in Exhibit Hall

A record number of entrants highlight the 31st annual competition, the nation’s premier junior event for male gymnasts. 844 of the nation’s top male gymnasts, ages 12-18, will compete for medals and a position on the Level 9 U.S. Junior National Team. The event also serves as a qualifying competition for the 2005 U.S. National Championships, to be held this August in Indianapolis.

 Athletes to watch include 2004 J.O. champ Bryan Del Castillo* (Laguna Niguel, Calif.), who earned silver at the 2004 Junior Pan American Games in San Salvador. Del Castillo is also the current USA Junior National Champion. 

Also on hand, last year’s Level 9 J.O. champion Philip Onorato (Plano, Texas). Onorato, now a Level 10 (age 14-15) competitor, earned still ring and vault titles at this meet last year and earlier this month helped the U.S. team to a silver medal at the Stella Zakharova Cup in Kiev, Ukraine.

Onorato’s WOGA teammate, Wes Aderhold (Dallas),18, is another one-to-watch. A current U.S. Junior National Team member, high school senior Aderhold is the current Junior National vault champion and is heading to the University of Oklahoma on scholarship in the fall.
The meet also features a strong Houston contingent, among them current U.S. Junior National team member Andre Berry (Hempstead, Texas), who finished third at this meet last year.
Other current U.S. Junior National members competing this week in Houston include: Mel Anton Santander (South Borough, Mass.), Kyson Bunthuwong (El Cerrito, Calif.), Russell Dabritz (Rowley, Mass.), Josh Dixon (San Jose, Calif.), Tim Gentry (Plano, Texas), Jimmy Kerry (Huntington Beach, Calif.), Jason Laughton (Northridge, Calif.), Danell Leyva (Miami), Edward Mesa (Cooper City, Fla.), Miguel Pineda (Columbus, Ohio), Patrick Piscitelli (Charlotte, N.C.), Mateusz Rybarski (Lake Zurich , Ill.), Tayler Scharman (Salt Lake City, Utah), Kyle Shanahan (Colorado Springs, Colo.) and Seung tai Lee (Sorrento, Fla.).
The meet is especially significant to the high school seniors taking part in their final J.O. Championships, many of whom will be moving on to NCAA competition in the fall. 2005 J.O. competitors receiving NCAA scholarships include: Aderhold (Oklahoma), Shaun Antonio (Penn State), Bunthuwong (Cal), Eddie Campbell (Minnesota), Garrett Carr (ACES), Joe Catrambone (Michigan), Russell Czeschin (Oklahoma), Bryant Hadden (Stanford), Laughton (Oklahoma), Chris Lung (Illinois), John Maurer (Penn State), Ryan McCarthy (Michigan), Kyle McNamara (Oklahoma), Geoffrey Reins (Iowa), Adam Reichow (Minnesota), Ralph Rosso (Surgent’s Elite), Nicholas Stango (Illinois) and Gregory Ter-Zakhariants (Stanford).
The illustrious history of J.O. champions include 2001 World Champion Sean Townsend (1997 J.O. Champ) and the first man to ever win the world and Olympic all-around titles for Team USA, Paul Hamm (1999 J.O. Champ). What star will be born in Houston?
“This is the future,” USA Gymnastics Men’s Program Manager Bo Morris said. “You’re definitely going to see some of these athletes on the 2008 Olympic Team. From Bart Conner on, all of our top athletes in the past 30 years have come through the junior program.”
Tickets are available at the George R. Brown Convention Center box office for $10 per day, or $55 for an All Event pass.
For those that can’t attend, real time online scoring will be available at www.meetscoresonline.com.
For more information visit www.jonationals.com/ or contact event media coordinator Susan Williams at [email protected] (media inquiries only).