BOSTON — Sam Mikulak is back in his usual spot at the U.S. men’s gymnastics championships.

The four-time champion overcame a pair of miscues on high bar and pommel horse to post an all-around score of 85.150 during the opening round Thursday, more than a point clear of Akash Modi. Allan Bower was third at 83.350 followed by Donothan Bailey and defending champion Yul Moldauer.

Mikulak arrived at TD Garden looking to recapture the form he showcased from 2013-16, when he won four straight national championships to stamp himself as the best of his generation. An Achilles injury limited him to just one event at 2017 nationals, opening the door for Moldauer to end Mikulak’s reign.

Mikulak joked that at 25 he’s the old man. He’s not necessarily wrong. Moldauer welcomed the chance to face Mikulak at full strength, though both entered the event not quite 100 percent after developing back issues over the last two weeks.

No matter for Mikulak. His start values are significantly higher than the rest of the field, giving him some wiggle room should he make a mistake.

In this case, he made two. The two-time Olympian put up the highest scores on floor exercise and parallel bars, a buffer he needed after flubs on high bar and pommels.

Mikulak’s high bar set is an ambitious mix of daring releases and intricate technical work that comes with a high risk and high reward if he can pull it off. This time, he couldn’t. He came off early in his routine, picked himself up and started all over. He was clean the second time through. His score of 13.7 was well off his best but his difficulty is so high it still tied for the fourth-best mark on the event all night.

Mikulak rebounded to put together a smooth floor routine before pommels presented more problems. Though he pantomimed his routine over while waiting to salute the judges, he still came off early and finished with a 13.650.

Still, it was more than enough to top the field on a sluggish night for most. It also put him in unusual territory. Mikulak typically struggles on the opening day only to roar back during the finals to win. This time, he’ll head to Saturday well in front as he tries to become the sixth man to win five national titles.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.