It's confusing, I know, but Olivia competes in two totally separate sports under the heading of USA Gymnastics. So far, we've kept you updated on her accomplishments in Trampoline and Tumbling (T&T), because it's usually more exciting with it's national travel and competition at the national level. However, her main passion, and main sport, really, the one she spends an average of 23.5 hours a week in the gym practicing, is artistic gymnastics - vault, bars, beam, floor - the stuff you generally think of when someone says "gymnastics". The two sports are structured so differently - in artistic gymnastics, at least for the compulsory levels (4-6), the end of the line is State Championships. The road to States starts at the local preliminary meets, where you must receive a qualifying score for Sectionals - the score changes annually - don't ask me the mechanics of that. Olivia scored well above the qualifying score at every prelim, but was definitely not hitting personal best, so she started to put in some visible effort at practice. The payoff began to show at Sectionals, where she not only took a 1st on beam with a 9.6 over Southern CA's best athletes, but had a respectable showing in the other 3 events + all around; hitting her qualifying score for State by a good margin. Which brings us to yesterdays Level 6 State Championships.
The day started with a 5am alarm and Lanie doing Liv's hair in the car for a 7:15am arrival time down in San Diego. As usual, Olivia was quietly confident before the meet - that girl does not like you to see her sweat. We found her coaches and team mates and she was off behind the velvet rope. They pulled bars 1st for their rotation, meaning beam was 2nd, which pleased Olivia, because she said she'd get the two events you can fall on out of the way. We had no idea what to expect on bars, as she's struggled all season, posting as low as a 7.4 with two falls - ouch - but we knew she had been working hard, and her scores had been creeping up, but still hadn't hit the 9's. She was our first competitor on bars and had what looked like a beautiful routine, but we were still shocked to see the 9.225 - nothing like pulling it out at the last minute, girl! But if you're only going to rock one meet, States is the place to do it. Nothing builds tension like tumbling across a 4" beam, so we were in knots for the next event, but Liv looked cool as a cucumber, giggling with team mate, Lily, as she waited her turn. The two dreaded skills are the back-walkover, which she executed with a little wobble, and the handstand, quarter turn dismount, which she rushed a bit, but the rest of the routine was beautiful - amazing leaps! We guessed her 9.325 wasn't a 1st place score, but combined with her bars, she was on her way to a really good meet. Everyone relaxed a little as they moved on to floor, and Olivia had a really great routine with a 9.375 - rock solid tumbling!, but Madalyn P. from Wildfire had already posted a 9.475, so we knew that wasn't her gold medal event, either. Just vault, and it was over, and we can't judge a good vault to save our lives, so it's always a surprise when the score pops up - sometimes a good surprise, and sometimes not. Yesterday was a great surprise when her 9.25 posted, because someone had already told us she only needed a 9.125 to hit 37, which is a great all around score. Time to relax and head into awards.
Lanie had done her best to keep track of the girls Olivia was competing against, so we had a good idea that Olivia had done really well, but she'd missed a few key scores so nothing was definite until the announcements. Here's how the individual events broke down: 4th on vault, 2nd on bars, 3rd on beam, 3rd on floor, and, drum roll. . . 1st All Around State Champion!!! Her 37.175 was so solid that she not only came in 1st in her age group, but she's 1st of all 130 level 6 girls, regardless of age. Her team mates did an amazing job, as well, with Ashley Stahl right behind her in 2nd with a 36.75, and Lily Turner in 4th with a 36.6 - Christine McGowan was also 4th in her age group with a 36.05. We loved all of that blue and white on the podium! And the good news kept coming. This year team awards have become a big thing for the girls, so when SCEGA took 3rd and Wildfire took 2nd, I think they were still a little shocked when they announced World Elite as the 1st place level 6 team champions. The girls look like midgets standing with their 6' tall trophy, which we had to dismantle to get in our car, because there was no way Olivia was not taking it home. That's it - compulsories are done, and it's on to optionals - a whole new world. We'll keep you posted.
So, World Elite, you just won Level 6 State Championships, what's next? Lunch!