U.S. Gymnastics Championships : Roethlisberger Wins Her 1st Gold Medal : Huntington Beach SCATS Gymnast Again Qualifies for National Team

From Times Wire Services

Marie Roethlisberger and Phil Cahoy, two of the nation's senior gymnasts, won gold medals for the first time in the McDonald's national championships Sunday.

The individual event medalists are determined in competition among the top finishers from the optional and compulsory phases of the all-around event. The scores from the earlier competition count for 50% of the final mark.

Roethlisberger received a 9.8 on the uneven bars Sunday. The gymnast, who competes for the Southern California Acro Team of Huntington Beach, qualified for the national team for a fifth time Saturday but said she was unhappy with her routines.

"I was very upset," she said of her Saturday performance. "This doesn't help," she added of the gold she won with a 19.100 total.

Roethlisberger was the first alternate on the 1984 Olympic team, but because of cartilage damage and bone chips in her elbows, she was able to train and compete in full health for only three months of the crucial pre-Olympic 1983-84 year.

In ninth grade, Roethlisberger moved away from her Minneapolis home to get world-class coaching, settling with her mother at SCATs and Marina High School for her senior year. This fall, she will be a freshman at the University of Minnesota, where her father, Fred Roethlisberger, is a nationally recognized men's gymnastics coach and a member of the 1968 Olympic team.

Hope Spivey, 14, the runner-up for the women's senior national title, tied with Beth Hansen, 15, for second at 18.925 Sunday. Newly-crowned national champion Jennifer Sey, 17, a teammate of Spivey on the Parkettes of Allentown, Pa., was fourth at 18.825.

Cahoy, a 1980 Olympian who claimed two individual championships twice while helping Nebraska win National Collegiate Athletic Assn. titles in 1980 and 1982, made the national men's team for the ninth time earlier. The 24-year-old took the gold on the pommel horse with a 9.8 performance Sunday.

"I have no problem with my body," said Cahoy, who was battling physical problems when he failed to make the 1984 Olympic team. "I feel a lot stronger."

Cahoy, who placed fifth in the overall competition, is giving no thought to retiring.

"I just love the sport," he said. "It's still fun."

Daniel Hayden, who helped Arizona State win the NCAA championship this year, won a gold on the still rings for a second consecutive year, finished in a tie for first on the high bar with David Moriel of UCLA and was second on the pommel horse. Tim Daggett, who clinched his national championship Friday with the top mark of the competition on the horse, placed fifth.

"I've missed on the horse only twice in the past eight years and both times it's been in the finals of the national championships," he said.

Daggett, a member of the U.S. gold medal Olympic team, had received a 9.9 for the event in the optional phase of the competition while receiving a 10 for a perfect performance from one judge. But, he slipped off the horse early in his routine Sunday. After getting back on, Daggett resumed his daring routine and received an 8.95 for a total of 18.675.

The UCLA graduate, who plans to move back to West Springfield, Mass. and continue his training there, later successfully defended his gold medal on the parallel bars to take home his fifth national championship in an individual event.

Other gold medalists Sunday were Robert Sundstrom, 20, a junior at the University of California, floor exercise; Joyce Wilborn, 15, of Passaic, N.J., in the women's vault; Angie Denkins, 17, of Willingboro, N.J., balance beam; Scott Wilbanks of Houston Baptist, men's vault, and Yolande Mavity, 17, who began in the sport at Modesto and now trains with the National Academy of Artistic Gymnastics in Eugene, Ore.

In earlier competition at Market Square Arena Sunday, 14-year-old Kristie Phillips successfully defended her junior title with a near-perfect performance in her four optional events.

Phillips, who became the nation's newest gym heroine in March by winning the American Cup all-around by defeating an all-star international field, finished with a 74.14 score.

Phillips, who some say could have won the senior competition, said she was looking forward to moving up as she looks ahead to making the 1988 Olympic team.

"Then they won't look at me as a little junior," Phillips said.

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