Region 3 wins 2024 Elite Team Cup as Jun Iwai takes junior men’s all-around title

By Patricia Duffy | February 25, 2024
Region 3's Jun Iwai on parallel bars during the 2024 Elite Team Cup.
© Amy Sanderson/Gymnastics Now

LOUISVILLE, Kentucky – Region 3 had themselves a night at the 2024 Elite Team Cup, returning to the top of the podium for the first time since 2021 with a 314.869.

Region 8 was second with a 310.689, and Region 1, the 2022 and 2023 champions, rounded out the top 3 with a 310.640.

Region 3 consisted of Jun Iwai, Jesse Hanny, Kiran Mandava, Kiefer Hong, Davide Comparin, and Xander Hong.

Region 3 at the 2024 Elite Team Cup. From left to right: Kiran Mandava, Kiefer Hong, Davide Comparin, Jesse Hanny, Xander Hong, and Jun Iwai.
Region 3 at the 2024 Elite Team Cup. From left to right: Kiran Mandava, Kiefer Hong, Davide Comparin, Jesse Hanny, Xander Hong, and Jun Iwai. (© Amy Sanderson/Gymnastics Now)

If some of those names sound familiar, it’s because Mandava and the Hong brothers are legacies of sorts; Kiran’s older brother, Vishal, was on the Region 3 team that won in 2021, as was Kiefer and Xander’s brother, Asher, who you may know now as the reigning U.S. men’s all-around champion, reigning NCAA vault champion, and 2023 world team bronze medalist.

Iwai also won the 2024 Winter Cup junior men’s all-around title, edging reigning U.S. men’s 16 all-around champion Nathan Roman by two hundredths – 80.186 to 80.166 – despite an early fall on high bar. Mandava was close behind in third with an 80.141.

“I’m super happy with how the region did, and we were able to win,” Iwai said after the meet. “I feel like that’s more important than my individual results.”

Region 3 rode top scores on rings and parallel bars to the title. They also had the second best team scores on pommel horse, vault, and high bar, as well as the third best score on floor.

The team overcame adversity on vault, where Comparin got injured partway through and they had to make a last minute adjustment.

“Lineups changed, but that didn’t shake us. We stayed focus and were able to get the win,” Iwai reflected.

Iwai qualified first to vault and floor finals with massive scores of 14.676 and 15.055, respectively. His scores on those events were bolstered by 1.431 points in bonus across the two. (The junior men continue to utilize a domestic bonus system for difficulty despite the senior men not utilizing it this year ahead of the Olympics.)

While Iwai graduates high school this year, he’s not following the well-traveled path to NCAA gymnastics. Instead, he’s going “pro” and moving to train at EVO Gymnastics, where Olympians and Olympic contenders like Brody Malone, Shane Wiskus, Stephen Nedoroscik, Curran Phillips, and Alex Diab currently train.

The nonprofit MAG Foundation USA is housed at EVO and funds select athletes like those previously mentioned with a goal of helping the U.S. return to the Olympic podium in 2024 and to the top of the podium in 2028.

As a funded athlete, Iwai will have a small salary, housing stipend, and the opportunity to earn performance bonuses, in addition to a national team stipend if he makes the team in the future. His dad is his coach, and he’s been hired by EVO, so they’re taking the pair.

“[It’s] not only that. My dream has always been to become Olympic all-around champion, and I think that path, going to EVO, makes that more attainable than if I went to NCAA,” Iwai said of his decision.

He’s not completely axing college though; Iwai plans to attend a small college in the area to maybe major in business or something else. He doesn’t know yet, but at 17, he’s got time to figure that out and some dreams to achieve before then.

Results – 2024 Elite Team Cup

Top 3 teams at 2024 Elite Team Cup:

  1. Region 3 – 314.869
  2. Region 8 – 310.689
  3. Region 1 – 310.640

Junior men’s all-around top 3 at 2024 Winter Cup:

  1. Jun Iwai (Region 3) – 80.186
  2. Nathan Roman (Region 1) – 80.166
  3. Kiran Mandava (Region 3) – 80.141

Full results from the 2024 Elite Team Cup here. Full results from the junior men’s all-around competition here.

Along with Iwai on floor and vault, Region 8’s Alex Karadzhov led the way on pommel horse with a 13.867, Region 7’s Michael Scheiner on parallel bars with a 14.502, Region 1’s Justin Park on rings with a 13.619, and Region 8’s Danila Leykin on high bar with a 14.026.

Junior men’s competition at the 2024 Winter Cup continues Sunday when the top seven athletes on each apparatus will compete in event finals alongside the senior men during Day 2 of men’s competition, starting at 5:30 p.m. ET. More info on how to watch can be found here. We’ll also be live-blogging the meet.

Note: After the conclusion of competition, Region 8 recognized Region 1 as the “true 2nd place team” after a judging error occurred on pommel horse. It’s important to note that this is a symbolic gesture of sportsmanship, as the official results have not been changed.

USA Gymnastics’ official statement said, “After the conclusion of competition, it was determined that a judging error had occurred on pommel horse. USA Gymnastics rules do not permit altering scores after the competition has ended, and the error was not realized until several hours after the end of competition. Region 8 acknowledged that the error that occurred in their favor impacted the rank order of finish for the teams.”