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Mikulak to lead gymnastics team to Rio

ST. LOUIS — Sam Mikulak, Jake Dalton and John Orozco are heading back to the Olympics. So are Alex Naddour and Chris Brooks. And this time, they won't be watching from the stands.

Naddour and Brooks, alternates on the 2012 men's gymnastics team, will join Mikulak, Dalton and Orozco in Rio de Janeiro in August after earning a spots on the U.S. team Saturday night.

Mikulak, a four-time national champion, easily posted the highest all-around score through four rounds of qualifying at the U.S. trials. He was followed by Brooks, at 29 the oldest competitor in the field. Brooks put together six more steady rotations Saturday night and finished the selection process without the kind of hiccups that have dogged him throughout his career.

Orozco returns to the Olympics as a specialist after a trying stretch that included the death of his mother and a second Achilles injury last year.

The Americans are still smarting from an ugly fifth-place finish in London four years ago, imploding in the final after easily topping qualifying. USA Gymnastics officials blamed part of the problem on fatigue and moved the trials up two weeks from 2012 to give the team a bit of a breather before final preparations before Rio begin.

Though the committee combined the scores of nationals earlier this month and the trials to try to get a big-picture view of the state of the program, the truth is the past month is really just the final steps in a lengthy selection process. The men's team has largely been static at the top since London, with Mikulak ripping off four straight national titles and the core group remaining intact during a run that included a team bronze at the 2014 worlds but also another fifth at the 2015 world championships last fall, a meet Mikulak and Dalton both missed due to injury.

DIVING: With one long hug and a few brief words, Troy Dumais asked Kristian Ipsen to carry on the legacy of American diving.

Ipsen smiled, Dumais choked back tears. Now the longtime synchro partners are heading in drastically different directions.

Ipsen and Michael Hixon took the two Olympic spots in men's 3-meter, while Dumais' bid to become the first U.S. man to dive in five Olympic Games came to an end in Indianapolis.

"It was cool because he just said, 'You're going to kill it,' " Ipsen said after winning with the event with 1,452.75 points. "It's pretty awesome. He's been to four Olympics now, so for him to say that was like passing on the torch. It was a really cool moment."

Jessica Parratto and Katrina Young enjoyed their day, too, making the U.S. team in women's 10-meter. Young moved up two places on her final three dives to qualify.

BASKETBALL: The U.S. team has its roster for Rio. Kyrie Irving and Harrison Barnes accepted spots to fill out the 12-player squad, the Associated Press reported. The decisions come two days before the Americans plan to announce the team in New York.

Mikulak to lead gymnastics team to Rio 06/25/16 [Last modified: Saturday, June 25, 2016 11:26pm]
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