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4TH GYMNASTICS TITLE THE RESULT OF WORK, LUCK

John Roethlisberger won the U.S. National Gymnastics Championships' all-around title Thursday night, becoming the first gymnast in 28 years to win four titles.

"I feel really lucky," Roethlisberger said. "In a sport like gymnastics, you work your butt off, and I've worked real hard, but it always takes a little bit of luck, and I've had some over the years."Roethlisberger, 25, of Minneapolis, was in first place at the end of the compulsories with a score of 68.28, and maintained his lead throughout the optionals. He finished with 113.42 points.

Casey Bryan of North Salt Lake, Woods Cross's USA Gymnastics World and the University of Oklahoma, finished 13th at 107.44. He had been 13th in the compulsory round, too. He qualifies for the World Team Trials in Austin, Texas, Sept. 8-9. The top seven from there advance to the World Championships the first week of October. Bryan qualified for the Worlds last year and helped the U.S. to ninth place as a team.

Women's finals are tonight, with Tooele's Deidra Graham, 15, in 15th place out of 38 competitors after compulsories, hoping to finish in the top 20 and make the U.S. national team. It is her first senior national finals. Brittnee Penman of Salt Lake, who trains with Arizona's Desert Devils, is 32nd.

Consistency was the key to Roethlisberger's success, he said. "Hitting sets is the most important thing out there. If you don't hit your sets you're not going to win."

Mihau Bagiu, 24, of Albuquerque, N.M., performing injury-free for the first time in over a year, was second with 110.56.

"I was just trying to hit my routines, feel out the judges and get back into competition," Bagiu said.

Blain Wilson, 21, of Columbus, Ohio, who finished ninth in the all-arounds last year, jumped to third with 110.42 points.

"I went out wanting to hit my sets," Wilson said. "It was good, but not as good as I want to be."

The top 14 senior men qualify for the world team trials Sept. 8-9 in Austin, Texas. Their scores in the nationals count as 40 percent of their world team trials all-around score.

The top seven men in the trials will travel to Sabae, Japan for the World Gymnastics Championships Oct. 1-10.

Roethlisberger, who has been on the national team for six years, was the national all-around champion in 1990, 1992 and 1993. Makoto Sakmoto won the AAU national championships in 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966 and 1968.

Earlier, Josh Birckelbaw of Sacramento, Calif., scored 53.25 to top the junior men's optionals. Tyler Vogt of Jacksonville, Fla., was second with 52.75 points. Gewin Sincharoen of Tujunga, Calif., was third with 52.70.