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Shannon Miller Wins National Title

June 8, 1996

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ Shannon Miller fell off the balance beam in her first routine Friday, but recovered with nearly flawless performances in the other three optional events to capture the National Gymnastics Championship.

Miller, a five-time medalist at the 1992 Olympics and the 1993 national champion, was in first place after Wednesday’s compulsories. But she scored a 9.3 on the beam and fell into third place behind Jaycie Phelps and Dominique Moceanu.

She came back with a 9.8 on the vault, a 9.85 on the uneven bars and a 9.9 on the floor exercises to edge Phelps by five-hundredths of a point over the two-day competition.

``I’ve had competitions before where I’ve had to come back. The fall woke me up and got me going for the next three events,″ she said.

The top 14 finishers will go to Boston later this month for the Olympic trials. Following Moceanu were Amanda Borden and Kerri Strug.

Dominique Dawes finished sixth, followed by Kristy Powell, Jennie Thompson, Mary Beth Arnold and Katie Teft in tenth.

Theresa Kulikowski was 11th, Mohini Bhardwaj and Larissa Fontaine tied for 12th, and Kristen Maloney finished 14th to qualify for the trials.

Monica Flammer in 15th and Alecian Ingram in 16th also made the U.S. national team.

Miller’s coach, Steven Nunno, said Miller’s experience pulled her through after the beam.

``If she was feeling sorry for herself at all we were going to have more problems than we were wishing for,″ he said.

Moceanu, the 14-year-old defending champion, said she just wanted to do her best.

``Hopefully it’ll be better before the next ones, which will be more important,″ she said. ``It was all right. I could have done better. You can always do better. I just hope to do better next time.″

Moceanu’s coach, Bela Karolyi, said it ``wasn’t the happiest night of my life, and not for her, hopefully.″

``But the way she pulled through in a fairly difficult situation makes me feel yes, she’s still a strong contender for the coming up games in quite a few events,″ he said.

The top six finishers in each event will compete in the event finals on Saturday, as do the men’s top event performers.

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