Malone, Barnhill lead junior men’s competition after day one at P&G Championships

By Doug Padilla

ANAHEIM, California – Once he was satisfied with his performance on pommel horse Thursday, Brody Malone’s confidence only grew after the opening day of the 17-18 junior men’s competition at the P&G Gymnastics Championships.

Malone’s pommel horse score of 13.100, on his second rotation of the day, helped him to his first of three event leading scores, also finishing on top the field in parallel bars (13.550) and high bar (13.400). His score of 81.300 put him well ahead of Vitaliy Guimaraes (78.750) and Kevin Penev (78.150).

“I hit my pommel set and that’s probably any gymnast’s wish, I guess,” said Malone, a Cedartown, Ga., native. “If you can hit a pommel set, you’re doing it right. I hit my pommel set pretty clean, and I felt really good about it.”

His day ended with his winning high bar score, but he still felt he could have been better, admitting its placement as his final event of the day could have played a role in not delivering in the discipline he would have hoped.

“I mean, maybe a little bit, but I’ve been competing these same sets all year so it’s basically perfecting those sets,” said Malone, who finished second on the day in the floor exercise and rings.

Taking the lead after day one in the 15-16 division was Lazarus Barnhill, a Houston native, who posted the top score in the floor exercise (13.450) and led the afternoon with an overall score of 78.500, just ahead of Garrett Braunton’s 78.050.

“I was most of all pleased with everything, but especially landings like on rings and horse,” Barnhill said. “Some things I wasn’t happy with where my rings handstand holds. I was a little shaky on that. But the overall day was definitely better than I thought it would be.”

Both junior divisions will be completed Saturday, in advance of the senior men’s competition at the national championships.