With one rotation to go in the NCAA men's gymnastics championships in Columbuys, Ohio, BYU coach Mako Sakamoto thought his star, Darren Elg, was in good shape to win the all-around national title.
It was close, but Elg finished in second place instead."(Elg) had a great meet. He was so close to winning it, but just didn't have quite enough, darn it," Sakamoto said.
Elg and Nebraska's Richard Grace were running neck-and-neck going into the last event for each - the parallel bars for Elg and the vault for Grace.
"(Olympic gold medalist) Peter Vidmar, who was doing commentary for CBS, came up to me before the final rotation and said, `I think Darren's going to make it. He's in good shape,' " Sakamoto said. "I thought he was in good shape, too, since the parallel bars are a good event for him. You've got to hand it to Grace, though, because he had a great vault."
Grace scored a 9.725 on the vault to finish with 58.325 overall, while Elg had a 9.625 in the parallel bars to finish second with a 57.775.
"I feel good about my performance," Elg said. "I was just trying to do my best, so I had no idea what the others were scoring or how close I was. I feel it was a good meet for me."
Elg, who missed last season's NCAA Championships while recovering from a ruptured left pectoralis muscle, will have today off before competing in the individual national title in the floor exercise and the horizontal bar Saturday night. BYU teammate Kenzo Koshimura qualified for the individual rings championships Saturday night by scoring a 9.7725 Thursday.
Elg led the all-around with two events left, but Grace took the lead when Elg scored a 9.350 in the vault while Grace was picking up a 9.700 in the parallel bars.
Stanford's Josh Stein and Ohio State's Blaine Wilson tied for tird at 57.775, with New Mexico's Blaz Puljic fifth at 57.700 and Jeremy Killen of Oklahoma sixth with 57.400 points.
Wilson had come into the meet with the top NCAA average in the all-around, with Elg second and Grace third.
Grace won the title by outpointing Elg 9.725 to 9.350 in the vault and 9.800 to 9.650 in the pommel horse.
Elg entered the season thinking he was a senior in eligibility, but has been granted another year with a medical hardship after his serious injury last year.
"It's been a long year, so I'm planning on taking some time off and then I'll decide what my goals are for next season," he said.
Said Sakamoto, "It's going to be nice to have Darren for another year."
Grace led Nebraska to the third and final spot in team qualifying, with the defending champion Cornhuskers joining Oklahoma and Iowa. Nebraska had 230.425 points, Stanford 230.075 and Penn State 228.900.