PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Sean Townsend wanted the national title, and he wasn't shy about telling people.
He didn't care that Blaine Wilson had a five-year winning streak going, he'd take him on. When Wilson withdrew after surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff, Townsend was actually a little disappointed.
But talking big is easy. Backing it up is the tough part.
Townsend proved he could do more than talk Friday night, easily winning the men's title at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships. The 2000 Olympian finished with 109.200 points, 1.425 points ahead of second-place Brett McClure.
"I'm pretty happy," said Townsend, who was the national junior champion in 1997. "Very proud."
With good reason. His name will forever be linked with the likes of Wilson, Bart Conner, Tim Daggett and Peter Vidmar. When he goes to the world championships this fall, he'll go as the best the United States has to offer.
"It was a lot of pressure, I will say that," said Kevin Mazeika, Townsend's coach. "I didn't worry too much that it would get to him, but it's always there. It's just great to get that monkey off his back and win the national title."
After making an incredibly difficult still rings routine look so easy a kid in gym class could do it, Townsend knew he only had to stand up on his vault to win the national title. When his feet slammed into the mat with a solid thud, Mazeika threw up his hands and pumped his fists.
Townsend raised his hand in triumph to the cheering crowd, and waved as he trotted off the floor. First, though, he found Wilson in the crowd and pointed at him, smiling.
"He just congratulated me and said, 'Whenever I come back, be ready,"' Townsend said.
McClure was second with 107.775 points. Olympian Stephen McCain jumped all the way to third after a disappointing 10th-place finish in the preliminaries.
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