NEWARK, N.J. – University of Oklahoma men’s gymnastics sophomore and reigning NCAA and Winter Cup all-around champion Yul Moldauer added another title to his resume Saturday afternoon, winning the 2017 AT&T American Cup in Newark, N.J., with an all-around mark of 85.931.
"I thought he looked great," Oklahoma head coach Mark Williams said. "All day today he looked relaxed and did his gymnastics about as well as I've seen him do it. That was his plan going in, just do what he does and see where he ends up. The pressure didn’t even seem to affect him going into the last event. I think I was more nervous here than he looked out there doing it."
Fellow American gymnast Akash Modi of Stanford finished in third with an 84.938 while 2016 Olympic all-around silver medalist Oleg Vernlaiev of Ukraine came in second at 85.699.
"Historically it’s a significant event for a lot of guys for preparation for Olympic quadrenniums where we’ve had American guys do well and then go on to make Olympic teams," Williams said. "Hopefully that’s the path Yul is on. Very impressive to beat the Olympic silver medalist from Rio. He could still add some difficulty and get a bit stronger but as a competitor he was magnificent to watch."
"The pressure didn’t even seem to affect him going into the last event. I think I was more nervous here than he looked out there doing it."
- Head Coach Mark Williams
Moldauer started the meet in spectacular fashion, posting a huge 14.566 that might have been his best routine of the day. That mark was nearly seven tenths better than second place and was the only score of 14.000 or better on the event. That space between Moldauer and the field proved to be important as his margin narrowed down the stretch. With the floor title wrapped up, Moldauer rolled his momentum, and an all-around lead, into the second rotation.
"His floor routine has gotten to be pretty easy," Williams said. "He does it so cleanly there isn’t much there to take. Really a lot of his events are like that right now."
Pommel horse saw Moldauer turn in another rock solid score. The reigning NCAA all-around champion scored 14.000 to finish third on the event. Vernlaiev won the event with a big 14.700 to cut into Moldauer’s all-around lead.
In the third rotation on rings, one of Moldauer’s best two events all season, the Sooner sophomore again posted a top-three score. His 14.300 on the back of a stuck dismount gave him second on the event, but Vernlaiev again cut into the all-around lead with a first-place 14.633. Moldauer hit for 14.466 on vault to place third, just ahead of Vernlaiev and Modi.
The gymnasts put on quite a show on parallel bars. Vernlaiev, who won gold on parallel bards at the 2016 Olympic Games, and Modi tied for first on the event with a 15.033 while Moldauer placed second with a 14.866. With just one rotation remaining, Moldauer led Vernlaiev in the all-around by just .099.
When Moldauer’s turn came around on high bar he needed to score at least a 13.501 to claim the title. Competing last in the rotation, Moldauer turned in a steady routine and capped it with a championship-caliber dismount to score 13.733 to take the American Cup all-around title.
"High bar is probably the only event he has a little trouble with," Williams said. "He's very comfortable with what he is doing right now and he was able to show off what he can do. It was great to see Oklahoma has another American Cup champion to add to some greats from the past."
Moldauer becomes the ninth Sooner champion at the American Cup. Held annually since 1976, OU legend and Olympic gold medalist Bart Conner won the inaugural American Cup and then won again in 1980 and 1981. Jarrod Hanks won in 1992, and former Sooner Jonathan Horton is a three-time American Cup all-around winner, having claimed the title in 2006, 2007 and 2011. Former Sooner Jake Dalton was Oklahoma’s most recent champion, having won in 2013. OU’s list of the champions is the most of any NCAA program.
The AT&T American Cup is part of the International Gymnastics Federation World Cup series and is the most prestigious event on American soil this year. The competition was the first of many international events leading up to the World Championships and eventually the 2020 Olympic Games.
The Sooners’ big Saturday continues as the rest of the No. 1-ranked Oklahoma men’s gymnastics team takes on No. 2 Stanford in Palo Alto, Calif., at 6 p.m. CT. The meet can be streamed live here.