11 Totally Awesome Skills From J.O. Nationals That We Want to See in College

Do you ever feel like those NCAA freshmen stars emerged out of nowhere? Chances are many of them were once level 10 standouts, and we’re here to help you get a jumpstart on what’s to come.

While we recapped the highest scoring routines at the recent J.O. national championships, we know that sometimes the scores don’t tell the whole story and want to highlight some skills that might have been overlooked. Here are the skills that particularly stood out to us and that we would love to bottle up and transport directly to the NCAA competition floor.

Let us know what your favorite skills and moments were! There were certainly a lot to choose from.

Helen Hu’s (Missouri, 2019) Unique Choreography

We know “unique choreography” isn’t a specific skill, but we had a hard time picking one moment from Helen Hu’s captivating floor routine to highlight. While all of Hu’s routines are exquisite and her beam routine was awarded the highest score of the weekend with a 9.775, her floor routine was particularly lovely. Her artistry is extraordinary and will be a breath of fresh air in the NCAA. She will almost certainly continue to be a fan favorite and a star at Mizzou in a couple of years, and we can’t wait to see the unique dance combinations she comes up with in the meantime.

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Rebekah Bean’s (BYU, 2018) switch leap to front tuck

You had to work really hard to see this one (she’s on the back beam), but this switch leap to front tuck is incredible and certainly made us do a double take. Here’s a video of her training the series earlier this season, and we’re excited she was able to successfully execute it at this competition. Bean’s whole routine is full of interesting skills that will only strengthen BYU’s beam lineup.

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Bella Salcedo’s (Uncommitted, 2021) Switch Full

We’re excited to see where this up-and-coming gymnast ends up in college, particularly if her routine includes skills like this exquisite switch full. Her full routine from the Nastia Cup is most certainly worth checking out, too, especially her double front dismount.

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Haleigh Bryant’s (LSU, 2020) Handspring Pike Half

Bryant is a fantastic all around gymnast and the Tigers will be psyched to add her to their squad in a couple of years. This vault helped her capture the event title with a 9.900 and for good reason. It’s nice to see a non-Yurchenko-style vault with wonderful execution and difficulty. This vault looks ready to insert into the LSU vault lineup, and we’ll be excited to see it.

Shylen Murakami’s (Southern Utah, 2018) Onodi

An Onodi is always a unique and eye-catching skill and this one certainly stood out amidst the chaos of the competition floor. Look for Murakami to be a star at Southern Utah. We would love if she could keep this difficulty in her routine and continue to execute it flawlessly in college.

Andrea Li’s (California, 2020) Endo to Jaeger Combo

Li’s uneven bars routine was beautiful as usual, but this unique combo really caught our eye for how floaty and effortless it was. Her pak and shaposh half are also noteworthy. This routine will be extremely helpful to Cal’s future lineups, and we hope she brings this dynamic combo with her to college.

Jillian Hoffman’s (Utah, 2019) Double Arabian

While her routine didn’t score quite as well as this one earlier this season, her form and height on her double Arabian are still quite impressive and will certainly add more strength to Utah’s lineup in the future.  

Jaedyn Rucker’s (Utah, 2019) Yurchenko 1.5

We know how much having 10.0 start value vaults in a lineup can give a team the extra boost it needs to pull ahead, and Utah certainly knew what it was doing when it recruited Rucker to join its squad. Not only is this Yurchenko 1.5 nearly stuck, but her technique and the way she flares out the landing is beautiful. While her vault here wasn’t quite perfect, she did score a 10.0 earlier this season at Pikes Peak. If she continues to execute vaults like this, Rucker is sure to make a splash in the standings in 2019.  

Sekai Wright’s (UCLA, 2018) Yurchenko 1.5

As long as we’re highlighting noteworthy vaults, Wright’s is definitely worth pointing out. While her form needs a bit of cleaning up in the air, her stuck landing (and the reaction that went along with it) were amazing. UCLA will be losing one of its 10.0 value vaults (from Pua Hall), and this one will definitely be a contender to fill that gap for the reigning national champions this coming season.

Kailin Chio’s  (Uncommitted, 2024) Beam Mount

Chio’s performance placed her second in her session in the all around, and we were impressed with her poise throughout the meet. This youngster still has many years before she thinks about college gymnastics, but in a world of cookie-cutter beam mounts,  this skill sets her apart, and we’re excited to see what other unique moves she comes up with in the coming seasons.

Gabryel Wilson’s (Michigan, 2020) Straddle Jumps

While all of Wilson’s tumbling is fantastic, we were particularly wowed by the height she gets on her straddle jumps, both on floor and beam. Even though this isn’t a particularly unique skill, we think it’s something that will really impress the judges and set her apart from the other competitors in college (especially when paired with her E-level tumbling passes). As we know, leaps are particularly important in the NCAA, and these will certainly add to the quality of Michigan’s lineups when she arrives.


Article by Luci Lantos

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