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Shannon Miller knows the slightest slip here or awkward movement there could destroy her dream of retaining the senior women's title in the U.S. Gymnastics Championship.

Miller, who won two silver and three bronze medals in the 1992 Olympics, finds herself locked in a spirited battle with Dominique Dawes and Amanda Borden after Wednesday's compulsory round.The two-time world champion totaled 46.56 points during her tour of the vault, uneven bars, balance beam and floor exercises.

The compulsory round accounts for 60 percent of the overall score in the competition.

"I had a little bobble on the beam and it cost me at least three-tenths of a point," Miller said. "I knew that I was going to have to take it up a bit."

Miller, a native of Edmond, Okla., showed championship form on the fourth rotation, scoring a 9.9 in the floor exercise.

"This is going absolutely as we had planned," Steve Nunno, Miller's coach, said. "We didn't get to work on the compulsory area as much as we would have liked, but we still did well. Shannon feels really confident right now.

"She's just got to hit four solid routines in the next round in order to win here. We've got a few new skills that we are going to try, and she's worked really hard to get here and I think she's going to do well," Nuno said.

Miller scored 9.625 on the vault, 9.825 on the uneven bars and 9.45 on the balance beam.

Miller held a slim lead over Dawes, of Gaithersburg, Md., who had 46.38 points. Dawes was consistent, earning a high score of 9.725 on the vault with a 9.7 in the floor exercise, 9.65 on the bars and 9.575 on the balance beam.

Burton, of Cincinnati, was within range in third place with a 45.81 total.

Mihai Bagiu, a native of Romania who lives in Albuquerque, led the senior men with 67.38 points. He had a best of 9.60 on the high bar to go with scores of 9.45 in the floor exercise, 9.20 on the pommel horse, 9.25 on the rings, 9.45 on the vault and 9.20 on the parallel bars.

John Roethlisberger, second with 67.320, is seeking to become the first American since Mako Sakamoto (1963-66) to win four straight national championships.

Scott Keswick was third at 67.260.

"I had a couple of bobbles but I'm happy," Bagiu said. "I've been training well and I came here to try and win the meet."

Roethlisberger, of Afton, Minn., said he's trying to avoid being preoccupied with winning his fourth title.

"I try to put it out of my mind but people keep bringing it up," he said. "I just try to go out and do my job."

In the junior competition, Mike Morgan of Cincinnati led after the compulsories with 61.320. Mike Dutka of Fairless Hills, Pa., had 60.060 and Marshall Nelson of Colorado Springs, Colo., had 59.760.

Dominique Moceanu of Houston led the junior women with 45.480 and Donielle Thompson of Colorado Springs had 44.430.

Today's schedule includes junior women's optionals and the junior and senior men's optionals. The competition continues through Saturday.

The top 20 women and top 14 men earning spot on the senior national team. Four men will qualify for the senior elite development squad. Another 12 women and seven men will make the junior national team.



Woods Cross' Bryan in 7th

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Casey Bryan of Woods Cross, the 1993 junior national champion when the title meet was held in Salt Lake City, stands in seventh place in the all-around following compulsory exercises Wednesday afternoon in his first attempt in the senior division at the 1994 National Gymnastics Championships at Nashville Auditorium.

Bryan, who trained at USA Gymnastics World in Woods Cross and attended Woods Cross High School, is now representing University of Oklahoma, where he will be a sophomore. His compulsory scores were 9.5 in floor exercise, 9.95 pommel horse, 9.3 still rings, 9.4 vault, 8.35 parallel bars, 9.2 horizontal bars and 65.52 all-around.

Bryan will compete in men's optionals tonight, hoping to remain in the top 14 and become a member of the national team.

Three Utah girls were to compete in the optional portion of the junior division national championships this afternoon. Deidra Graham of Tooele and Sandy's Olympus School of Gymnastics, was in 10th place at 35.60, teammate Taryn Apgood was in 15th with 34.50 and Cassidy Vreeke of Murray's Rocky Mountain Gymnastics was in 20th place (33.725) after Wednesday compulsories. The top 12 make the national team.