Asher Hong overcame an uncharacteristic fall on the floor exercise to take the lead after the opening round of the U.S. men’s gymnastics championships Thursday night in San Jose, California.
Hong, a 19-year-old sophomore at Stanford, posted a total of 85.615 points, just ahead of 2017 national champion and 2020 Olympian Yul Moldauer at 85.548.
Fred Richard, a sophomore at Michigan and the reigning NCAA all-around champion, was third at 85.469.
Hong, third at the 2022 national championships, used a massive 15.455 on vault early in the competition to grab the lead. His only real miscue came on the floor exercise later in the night, when he slipped at the end of a tumbling pass.
Moldauer finished in the top four on still rings, pommel horse and parallel bars to stay within striking distance of Hong ahead of the finals Saturday night.
Richard overcame a massive step out of bounds on his vault dismount by scoring a 15.105 on high bar, a full point better than anyone else.
The competition is the last tuneup before world selection team camp in September. The Americans will head to Belgium without reigning national champion and 2022 world high bar champion Brody Malone. Malone is recovering from surgery on his right leg and is hoping to return to competition in early 2024.