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Grant Osborne Tops Junior Division

August 7, 2002

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CLEVELAND (AP) _ Grant Osborne put on a pretty impressive show for someone who wasn’t sure if he’d even be here a few days ago.

Osborne, who hurt his back on the still rings 1 1/2 weeks ago, finished first in the 16-18 division Wednesday in the U.S. Gymnastics Championships.

``Consistency was my goal today,″ said the 16-year-old from San Diego. ``I felt pressure going into the last events, parallel bars and high bar. I keep hearing over the loud speaker that I was in the lead.″

And Osborne isn’t finished sweating it out. He’ll have to wait until Friday to see if he won the all-around title. There are five juniors competing at the senior level. If they don’t finish high enough to make the senior national team, their scores will count in juniors, possibly bumping Osborne.

Gerry Signorelli of Colorado Springs, Colo., is in second in the 16-18 division and Willie Ito of Huntington Beach, Calif., is third.

The results of the junior individual event finals will stand, though, and Osborne won the individual pommel horse title. Signorelli won the parallel bars and Ito placed first on the high bar.

Tyler Yamauchi of Houston won the individual floor exercise and still rings titles, while David Sender of Chicago won the vault.

``High bar has always been my best event,″ Ito said. ``I really like flying high and I enjoy the rush.″

In the 14-15 division, Taqiy Abdullah of Houston won the all-around title while Jonathan Horton of Houston was second. Derek Helsby was third.

``It was a great experience today,″ said Abdullah, who also won the individual floor, parallel bars and high bar titles. ``It was a big surprise to finish as high as I did. I’ve never put it all together before, but I’ve been training really well. Training with Sean gives me something to strive for.″

Abdullah trains with defending national champion Sean Townsend.

Horton also won the rings and vault titles. Bryan Del Castillo took home the pommel horse title.

``My performance was rough, compared to usual,″ Horton said. ``I’m pleased with my performance because I made the national team, and that was my goal.″

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NO RAJ: Raj Bhavsar is going to have to be content with his NCAA title this year.

The reigning NCAA all-around champ is missing the U.S. Gymnastics Championships after undergoing shoulder surgery in May. He’s not expected to compete again until early next year.

Bhavsar, who will be a senior at Ohio State this fall, finished fourth at nationals last year and was part of the U.S. team that won a historic silver in the world championships. It was the United States’ best finish at worlds.

``His injury wasn’t catastrophic,″ Ohio State coach Miles Avery told The Columbus Dispatch after Bhavsar had surgery. ``He had to get it fixed if he wants to stay at the Olympic level.″

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GOING FOR GOLD: There’s more at stake this week than just spots on the national team. The individual event world championships are Nov. 20-24 in Debrecen, Hungary, and nationals will help determine who gets to go.

The United States can send four women and six men to the world championships. Both teams will be determined at selection camps in October.

All six men’s event championships from nationals automatically qualify for the selection camp, and up to three more athletes on each event will be invited.

For the women, a points system will be used. Scores from the U.S. Classic, Thursday night’s preliminaries and Saturday’s all-around finals will be combined, and the top four athletes will be invited to the camp.

Katie Heenan, who won a bronze medal on the uneven bars at last year’s worlds, has already been selected for the camp.

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BARS AND MATS: Three-time rhythmic champion Jessica Howard is sitting out nationals this year. Howard is recovering from knee surgery. ... This is the first time in the United States that l champions in artistic and rhythmic gymnastics, trampoline and tumbling, and sports acrobatics are holding team trials for the world championships at the same meet.

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