GYMNASTICS Preview: Biles and Mikulak looking to make history at U.S. Nationals in Kansas City starting Thursday

The gateway to the 2019 World Championships in gymnastics is in Kansas City, where the USA Gymnastics National Championships will take place from Thursday through Sunday.

Although the actual Worlds team won’t be selected until a final training camp in September, the Nationals will play a key role in getting invited to the training camp in Colorado Springs for the men (5-9 September) or from 25-27 September for the women. So there is a lot on the line this week:

08 August: Men, session I ~ 8 p.m. Eastern on NBCSN
09 August: Women, session I ~ 8 p.m. Eastern on NBCSN
10 August: Men, session II ~ 8 p.m. Eastern on NBCSN
11 August: Women session II ~ 8 p.m. Eastern on NBC

The U.S. National Junior Championships will take place on the same dates, but in the afternoon.

The stars expected to compete:

● Sam Mikulak ~ 2013-14-15-16-18 National All-Around Champion
● Yul Moldauer ~ 2017 National All-Around Champion, 2018 runner-up
● Akash Modi ~ 2017 Parallel Bars winner
● Allan Bower ~ 2018 All-Around bronze; 2017 All-Around silver
● Colin van Wicklen ~ 2018 Vault and High Bar bronzes
● Trevor Howard ~ 2018 Rings winner
● Donothan Bailey ~ 2018 Parallel Bars and High Bar silver
● Alec Yoder ~ 2018 Pommel Horse winner

Mikulak, 26, finally won a World Championships individual medal with a bronze last year in the High Bar, but has dominated the American scene since 2013. If he wins in Kansas City, he will tie Makoto Sakamoto, who won six All-Around titles between 1963-70 for second all-time. The all-time leader in national titles in Alfred Jochim, who won seven between 1925-33.

● Simone Biles ~ 2013-14-15-16-18 National All-Around Champion
● Morgan Hurd ~ 2018 All-Around runner-up; Uneven Bars & Floor bronzes
● Riley McCusker ~ 2018 All-Around bronze; Uneven Bars silver, Beam bronze
● Kara Eaker ~ 2018 Balance Beam silver
● Jade Carey ~ 2018 Floor silver; Vault bronze; 2017 Vault winner
● Jordan Chiles ~ 2018 Vault silver; 2017 All-Around silver
● MyKayla Skinner ~ 2016 Vault silver and Floor bronze
● Trinity Thomas ~ 2017 Balance Beam and Floor bronzes
● Leanne Wong ~ 2018 National Junior Champion

Eaker, Hurd, McCusker, Wong and Aleah Finnegan won the team gold medal at the Pan American Games in Lima last week. McCusker won the Balance Beam and Eaker won the Balance Beam.

Biles will also be looking for her sixth national All-Around title, to tie Clara Schroth, who won in 1945-46-49-50-51-52, for the most ever. Biles had a first during her victory last season; she not only won the All-Around, but won all four of the individual events as well, for a total of five golds.

Including the juniors, the fields for Kansas City include 77 men and 46 women. Look for results here.