HOUSTON - Once Olympic gold medalist Paul Hamm left the 2008 Visa Championships, the hopes of a half-dozen other gymnasts vaulted upward. Now they were vying for first in these national championships, not second.
"Someone had to step up," David Sender said.
Last night, the Stanford senior took the biggest step, winning the all-around gold medal with an overall score of 180.700.
Jonathan Horton, his Team Chevron teammate, was second (180.450).
In fact, the first eight were from that powerful Houston-based team. They included Joseph Hagerty (180.300), David Durante (178.950), Raj Bhavsar (178.250), Alexander Artemev (178.150), Guillermo Alvarez (177.950) and Todd Thornton (176.650).
Sender, Horton, Hagerty, Durante, Bhavsar and Artemev were named to the national team, which will compete next month at the Olympic trials in Philadelphia.
Also named to the U.S. team were Camden's Sean Golden, a three-event specialist who finished second in the vault and third on the rings, and Penn State's Kevin Tan, who won the rings competition. They, too, are Team Chevron members.
"My first goal was to make the national team," Golden said. "My next goal is to make the Olympics. It will be great to go for that at home."
Golden said he will need to finish in the top three in each of his three disciplines. He was eighth in his other event, the floor exercise.
The injured Hamm and his twin, Morgan, were added to the team, though Paul Hamm won't be able to compete at the trials after suffering a broken hand Thursday.
Those 10 earned spots on the national team under a complex scoring system and not because of their overall finish. Added as the four discretionary picks were Alvarez, Yewki Tomita, Justin Spring and Tim McNeill.
Winners of the individual disciplines were Tomita on the pommel horse, Sender in the vault, Spring on the parallel bars, Hagerty on the high bar, and Morgan Hamm in the floor exercise.
Other winners were, on the women's side: Lisa Wang, all-around in rhythmic gymnastics; Alaina Hebert, trampoline; Hebert and Erin Blanchard, synchronized trampoline; Aubree Balkan, double mini-trampoline; and Kathleen Tortorich, tumbling. The men's winners were: Chris Estrada, trampoline; Logan Dooley and Steve Gluckstein, synchronized trampoline; Austin White, double mini-trampoline; and Kalon Ludvigson, tumbling.
In the juniors competition, Sean Senters of Center Valley, Lehigh County, was first in the floor exercise in the 14- to 15-year-old artistic division. John Orozco of New York City won the all-around.