Most Difficulty In The 2018 NCAA Super Six: Beam Edition

Today, we are taking another look at which teams had the most difficulty in their lineups at the Super Six championships, focusing this time on balance beam. As we mentioned in our previous look at the uneven bars, gymnasts start from a 9.5 difficulty level on bars, beam, and floor, and they are required to add bonus points to get to a 10.0 start value.

To get bonus points, gymnasts add in difficulty from "D" and "E" skills and connection bonus. D skills are worth an extra 0.10, while E skills are worth an extra 0.20. Gymnasts are only able to rack up a total of 0.40 in either the difficulty or connection bonus category. 

On balance beam, E skills are a lot less common than what we saw on uneven bars. Gymnasts make up for this by adding in more D skills and connection value. There was an important change to the NCAA judging rules this year on beam — notably, that the front aerial to back handspring series connection no longer receives any connection bonus, making it equal to a gymnast performing a back handspring to layout step out. They would need to add a third skill to get any bonus.

Check out our ranking below for the most difficulty from the 2018 Super Six teams on beam. For the purposes of this ranking, we looked (when possible) at the actual routines performed at Super Six, but did not count falls.

1. LSU

For the second year in a row, LSU takes the top spot in our rankings. They had by far the highest score when it came to E skills, with five out of six gymnasts in their lineup having performed an E skill somewhere in their routine. Interestingly, four of these gymnasts (Erin Macadaeg, Christina Desiderio, Reagan Campbell, and Sarah Finnegan) competed a switch half, a very difficult leap. Kennedi Edney competed an E acrobatic element: a piked front toss (though she often bends her knees in this, and it’s possible judges consider this to be tucked, making it a D).

LSU also racked up a lot of connection bonus, and they tied with Utah for the most in their lineup. Desiderio had the most bonus in her routine, with a front aerial to Sissone for +0.10, and a switch leap to switch half to beat jump for +0.30, giving her the max in connection bonus for her routine. 

Check out the full breakdown below:

"E" Skills - Total: 5 x 0.2 = 1.0

  1. Switch half (Campbell, Macadaeg, Desiderio, Finnegan)
  2. Front piked toss (Edney)

“D" Skills - Total: 7 x 0.1 = 0.70

  1. Front aerial (Campbell, Macadaeg, Desiderio, Edney)
  2. Side somi (Finnegan)
  3. Aerial cartwheel (Finnegan, Myia Hambrick

Connection Value - Total: 1.8

  1. Campbell: Back tuck (C) + Split jump (B) = +0.10, Switch leap (C) + Switch half (E) = +0.20
  2. Desiderio: Front aerial (D) + Sissone (A) = +0.10, Switch leap (C) + Switch half (E) + Beat jump (A) = +0.30
  3. Edney: Front aerial (D) + Sissone (A) = +0.10, Switch leap (C) + Straddle 1/4 (C) = +0.20
  4. Finnegan: Switch leap (C) + Switch half (E) = +0.20
  5. Hambrick: Hitch kick (A) + Aerial cartwheel (D) = +0.10, Switch leap (C) + Straddle 1/4 (C) = +0.20
  6. Macadaeg: Switch leap (C) + Switch half (E) + Beat jump (A) = +0.30

TOTAL BONUS: 3.5

2. Utah

Coming in second place is Utah, who, like LSU, had a lot of connection bonus throughout their lineup. Two gymnasts competed with the max bonus allowed in connection: Missy Reinstadtler and Makenna Merrell-Giles. Reinstadtler competed a front aerial to straddle jump for +0.20, as well as a switch leap to straddle 1/4 for another +0.20. Merrell-Giles included three connections in her routine: a switch leap to split jump for +0.10, a front aerial to beat jump for +0.10, and her acrobatic series of back handspring to back handspring to layout step out for +0.20. 

Utah is tied for second with Nebraska when it comes to E skills. They had two gymnasts who compete E skills, which is impressive given many teams had no E skills in their lineup. MyKayla Skinner competed a very difficult double tuck dismount, while Sydney Soloski competed a switch half. 

Check out the full breakdown below: 

"E" Skills - Total: 2 x 0.2 = 0.40

  1. Double tuck dismount (Skinner)
  2. Switch half (Soloski)

“D" Skills - Total: 8 x 0.10 = 0.80

  1. Aerial cartwheel (Kari Lee, Skinner)
  2. Front aerial (Reinstadtler, Merrell-Giles, Soloski, Maddy Stover)
  3. Ring jump (Stover)
  4. Front toss (Stover)

Connection Value - Total: 1.8

  1. Lee: Beat jump (A) + Aerial cartwheel (D) = +0.10, Switch leap (C) + Straddle 1/4 (C) = +0.20
  2. Reinstadtler: Front aerial (D) + Straddle jump (B) = +0.20, Switch leap (C) + Straddle 1/4 (C) = +0.20
  3. Merrell-Giles: Switch leap (C) + Split jump (B) = +0.10, Back handspring + Back handspring (B) + Layout step out (C) = +0.20, Front aerial (D) + Beat jump (A) = +0.10
  4. Skinner: Aerial cartwheel (D) + Sissone (A) = +0.10, Switch leap (C) + Straddle jump (B) + Back tuck (C) = +0.20
  5. Soloski: Cat leap (A) + Switch half (E) = +0.10, Switch leap (C) + Split jump (B) = +0.10
  6. Stover: Beat jump (A) + Ring jump (D) = +0.10, Switch leap (C) + Straddle jump (B) = +0.10

TOTAL BONUS: 3.0

3T. Nebraska

Beam might arguably be one of Nebraska’s best events, and their lineup is loaded with difficulty, putting them well above some of the top teams. As mentioned, they tied with Utah for the number of E skills in their lineup, with Kynsee Roby and Megan Schweihofer both having competed switch halves. 

They also tie for third when it comes to connection bonus. Five out of their six gymnasts competed with +0.30 in bonus. Grace Williams competed one of the more difficult acrobatic series with her back handspring to two layout step outs, earning her +0.30. Danielle Breen also competed a unique series of a one-armed back handspring to layout step out, earning her +0.20. Schweihofer, meanwhile, competed one of the more difficult dance series with her switch leap to switch half, also worth +0.20 in bonus. 

Check out the full breakdown:

"E" Skills - Total: 2 x 0.2 = 0.40

  1. Switch half (Roby, Schweihofer)

“D" Skills - Total: 8 x 0.10 = 0.80

  1. Sheep jump (Breen)
  2. Front toss (Abbie Epperson)
  3. Front aerial (Taylor Houchin, Roby)
  4. Aerial cartwheel (Houchin, Roby, Williams)
  5. Layout to 2 feet (Schweihofer)

Connection Value - Total: 1.7

  1. Breen: One-arm back handspring (C) + Layout step out (C) = +0.20, Sissone (A) + Sheep jump (D) = +0.10
  2. Epperson: Switch leap (C) + Split jump (B) = +0.10, Cat leap (A) + Front toss (D) + Beat jump (A) = +0.20
  3. Houchin: Front aerial (D) + Beat jump (A) = +0.10, Switch leap (C) + Split jump (B) = +0.10
  4. Roby: Front aerial (D) + Back handspring (B) + Back handspring (B) = +0.20, Sissone (A) + Switch half (E) = +0.10
  5. Schweihofer: Back handspring (B) + Layout to 2 feet (D) = +0.10, Switch leap (C) + Switch half (E) = +0.20
  6. Williams: Back handspring (B) + Layout step out (C) + Layout step out (C) = +0.30

TOTAL BONUS: 2.9

3T. UCLA

NCAA champions UCLA are in fourth, with the majority of the difficulty in their lineup made up of D skills. In fact, their lineup had the most D skills out of any of the Super Six teams, with a total of 12. Peng Peng Lee competed the most D skills for the team: Homma flairs, a double turn, layout to two feet, and aerial cartwheel. Brielle Nguyen and Kyla Ross each had two D-skills; Ross with a front aerial and aerial cartwheel, and Nguyen with a layout step out and split jump 1/2. 

In terms of connection bonus, Katelyn Ohashi takes the cake. She competed a front aerial to back handspring to back layout for +0.20, a switch leap to split jump for +0.10, and back handspring to layout step out to full twist dismount for +0.10. 

See the full breakdown here:

"E" Skills - Total: 0

“D" Skills - Total: 12 x 0.10 = 1.2

  1. Front aerial (Grace Glenn, Madison Kocian, Nguyen, Ohashi, Ross)
  2. Homma flairs (Lee)
  3. Double turn (Lee)
  4. Layout piked down to 2 feet (Lee)
  5. Aerial cartwheel (Lee, Ross)
  6. Layout step-out (Nguyen)
  7. Split jump 1/2 (Nguyen)

Connection Value - Total: 1.7

  1. G. Glenn: Front aerial (D) + Split jump (B) = +0.20, Switch leap (C) + Split jump (B) = +0.10
  2. Kocian: Front aerial (D) + Split jump (B) = +0.20, Switch leap (C) + Split jump (B) = +0.10
  3. Lee: Back handspring (B) + Back layout to 2 feet (D) = +0.10, Double turn (D) + Beet jump (A) + Split jump (B) = +0.10
  4. Nguyen: Front aerial (D) + Layout Stepout (D) = +0.20, Switch leap (C) + Split jump (B) = +0.10
  5. Ohashi: Front aerial (D) + Back handspring (B) + Back layout (C) = +0.20, Switch leap (C) + Split jump (B) = +0.10, Back handspring (B) + Layout step out (C) + Back 1/1 (B) = +0.10
  6. Ross: Switch leap (C) + Split jump (B) = +0.10, Front aerial (D) + Sissone (A) = +0.10

TOTAL BONUS: 2.9

5. Florida

The Gators are in fifth place in our ranking, coming in just behind UCLA and Nebraska in both overall ranking and in terms of connection bonus. Rachel Gowey was the only gymnast in the lineup who maximized her connection bonus, having earned +0.30 for her back handspring to two layout step outs and +0.10 for her switch leap to split jump. Senior Alex McMurtry had the next highest bonus, earning +0.10 for her cat leap to front toss and +0.20 for her switch leap to Shushunova. 

Florida had one gymnast who competed an E skill — freshman Alyssa Baumann, who competed a gorgeous Onodi. Fellow freshman Megan Skaggs racked up the most D skills with a total of three: a switch side, double wolf turn, and aerial cartwheel. 

See the full breakdown below:

"E" Skills - Total: 1 x 0.2 = 0.20

1. Onodi (Baumann)

“D" Skills - Total: 10 x 0.1 = 1.0

  1. Front aerial (Baumann, Gowey, Amelia Hundley)
  2. Front toss (Alicia Boren, McMurtry)
  3. Gainer layout (Boren)
  4. Switch side (Hundley, Skaggs)
  5. Double wolf turn (Skaggs)
  6. Aerial cartwheel (Skaggs)

Connection Value - Total: 1.4

  1. Baumann: Switch leap (C) + Split jump (B) = +0.10
  2. Boren: Switch leap (C) + Straddle jump (B) = +0.10, Cat leap (A) + Gainer layout (D) = +0.10
  3. Gowey: Switch leap (C) + Split jump (B) = +0.10, Back handspring (B) + Layout step out (C) + Layout step out (C) = +0.30
  4. Hundley: Cat leap (A) + Switch side (D) = +0.10, Front aerial (D) + Sissone (A) = +0.10
  5. McMurtry: Cat leap (A) + Front toss (D) = +0.10, Switch leap (C) + Shushunova (C) = +0.20
  6. Skaggs: Switch leap (C) + Split jump (B) = +0.10, Cat leap (A) + Switch side (D) = +0.10

TOTAL BONUS: 2.6

6. Oklahoma

The Oklahoma Sooners are last in our ranking, and they tied with Florida for the second highest amount of D skills in their lineup. The front aerial was a popular skill for the Sooners, and five out of six in their lineup competed it, with the exception of Bre Showers who competed a front toss. Four gymnasts — Natalie Brown, Stefani Catour, Nicole Lehrmann, and Anastasia Webb — competed two D skills in their routine. Catour and Lehrmann both competed a switch side, while Brown competed a straddle 3/4, and Webb performed an aerial cartwheel.

For connection bonus, Showers competed one of the most impressive connections in her routine. She did a switch leap to straight jump 1/1 to Korbut, totaling +0.30 in bonus. Two other gymnasts, Brown and Maggie Nichols, also totaled +0.30 in bonus from their routines. Brown competed a front aerial to two back handsprings for +0.20, in addition to a beat jump to straddle 3/4 for +0.10. Nichols competed a front aerial to split jump for +0.20, and a switch leap to split jump for +0.10. 

Check out the breakdown below:

"E" Skills - Total: 0

“D" Skills - Total: 9 x 0.10 = 1.0

  1. Front aerial (Brown, Catour, Lehrmann, Nichols, Webb)
  2. Straddle 3/4 (Brown)
  3. Switch side (Catour, Lehrmann)
  4. Front toss (Showers)
  5. Aerial cartwheel (Webb)

Connection Value - Total: 1.5

  1. Brown: Front aerial (D) + Back handspring (B) + Back handspring (B) = +0.20, Beat jump (A) + Straddle 3/4 (D) = +0.10
  2. Catour: Cat leap (A) + Switch side (D) = +0.10, Cat leap (A) + Front aerial (D) = +0.10
  3. Lehrmann: Cat leap (A) + Switch side (D) = +0.10, Switch leap (C) + Korbut (B) = +0.10
  4. Nichols: Front aerial (D) + Split jump (B) = +0.20, Switch leap (C) + Split jump (B) = +0.10
  5. Showers: Switch leap (C) + Straight jump 1/1 (C) + Korbut (B) = +0.30
  6. Webb: Cat leap (A) + Front aerial (D) = +0.10, Switch leap (C) + Split jump (B) = +0.10

TOTAL BONUS: 2.5

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