Watts, Burke Claim Junior Age Division Titles


By Jo-Ann Barnas

PITTSBURGH – Kiwan Watts and Yul Moldauer knew it would be like this, pushing each other all night in the race for the U.S. junior elite division 17-18 all-around title at the P&G Gymnastics Championships at Consol Energy Center.

“Me and Yul, we’re competitors but we’re also really good friends,” Watts said.

Moldauer said: “We’ve known each other since Level 9, six years ago. It was a great night for both of us.”

This time it was Watts holding off Moldauer to claim his first U.S. junior crown. Watts, who lives in North Chesterfield, Va., and trains at Above The Bar, finished with a combined two-day total of 166.20 points.

Moldauer, who lives in Denver, Colo., and trains at 5280 Gym, won the silver medal with 165.65.

Robert Neff of Swiss Turners notched the bronze with a 163.85 total.

Competing in the same rotation group, Moldauer followed Watts in the event order in five of the six events. Watts claimed individual medals in floor exercise (tied for gold with Kyle King), pommel horse (silver), still rings (silver) and high bar (gold).

Tristan Burke of Royse City, Texas, won the junior elite men’s 15-16 crown. He described the experience as surreal.

“It hasn’t hit me yet, and probably won’t until 4 in the morning when I’m trying to sleep,” said Burke, who posted a two-day total of 164.55. “I led after the first event and then I stopped looking at the scoreboard. My goal coming in was, first, to enjoy every single moment. The second was to spend time with my family, and (third), hit 12-for-12 (over two days of competition).”

Burke also claimed event medals on pommel horse (bronze), still rings (gold) and parallel bars (tied for silver with Jordan King).

Grant Breckenridge of the Buffalo Grove gym took the silver medal (163.30), while David Jessen of TAG USA won bronze (161.30).