Asher Hong staves off Yul Moldauer, Fred Richard on Day 1 of 2023 Xfinity U.S. Gymnastics Championships

By Patricia Duffy | August 25, 2023
From left to right: Fred Richard, Asher Hong, and Yul Moldauer on Day 1 of the 2023 Xfinity U.S. Gymnastics Championships.

SAN JOSE, Calif. – Asher Hong didn’t have a perfect Day 1 at the 2023 Xfinity U.S. Gymnastics Championships, but he still sits atop the senior men’s standings, primed for his first U.S. all-around title, thanks to his high level of difficulty.

The men’s all-around and event champions will be decided Saturday at the SAP Center using two-day aggregate totals and the bonus system the U.S. men’s program instituted this quad to emphasize increasing difficulty. As it stands, Hong leads with an 85.615, followed closely by 2017 champion and Olympian Yul Moldauer (85.548) and fellow 19-year-old Fred Richard (85.469).

A thin margin of 0.146 separates first from third, meaning any of the three could win the title in two days’ time, but the real prize up for grabs in California isn’t a national title – it’s a spot on the five-man world team.

The team that will compete next month in Antwerp, Belgium, will be announced Saturday following the conclusion of competition, and the senior selection committee (SSC) won’t be using the official standings to make that decision; they’ll be using the results without bonus.

So how does that shake up the top of the leaderboard?

  1. Yul Moldauer = 84.8
  2. Fred Richard = 84.65
  3. Khoi Young = 84.35
  4. TIE Asher Hong + Paul Juda = 84.3
  5. Colt Walker = 83.7

Of course, that doesn’t include the event specialists vying for a spot, namely 2021 world pommel horse champion Stephen Nedoroscik and reigning U.S., Winter Cup, and Core Hydration Classic parallel bars champion Curran Phillips. Both athletes boast world-competitive difficulty scores, and both hit their sets on Thursday to lead their respective events. Nedoroscik went 15.457 (14.850 sans bonus), and Phillips went 16.147 (15.550), with the latter also competing vault (14.650) and high bar (12.972/12.850 without) to bolster his stock.

The three at the top of the official standings – Hong, Moldauer, and Richard – had good days with room to improve. The only major error came from the leader, Hong, who had a fluke slip up on floor when he sat his front full to front double pike – something he can easily correct.

“It was a technical error,” Hong assessed after the meet. “I put the full a little bit too low, and my shoulders were too far behind my heels and I kind of didn’t have the lift I wanted. In the air, I punched, and I knew that I was gonna have some lack of rotation. So I was like, pull, pull, pull, and then kind of just slipped on there. But it is what it is. Saturday, I’ll make the tweaks and adjustments needed.”

Senior men’s competition concludes Saturday at the SAP Center, and hopefully, everyone will remember their uniform.

For a full play-by-play of Day 1, check out our live blog, and don’t forget to check out our 10 storylines to follow story for a breakdown of the men’s world team selection process.

Kai Uemura continues dominance in junior division

Reigning 16-year-old and Winter Cup champion Kai Uemura leads the 17-year-old junior men’s division after Day 1 with a massive 83.394, with bonus.

It’s “massive” because the junior compete 10 less skills than the seniors, yet Uemura’s score would’ve been third among the senior ranks at the Classic.

There were plenty of highlights for the Lakeshore Academy product. He currently leads high bar (14.042) and pommel horse (14.790). He’s second on floor (14.061) and parallel bars (13.713) and third on rings (13.238).

Rounding out the top 3 17-year-olds are Kiran Mandava (79.743) and Classic champion Xander Hong (78.130), younger brother of Asher.

In the junior men’s division, Nathan Roman leads with a 78.864, followed by Danila Leykin (78.370) and Ty Roderiques (74.959).

For a full play-by-play of Day 1, check out our live blog.