Black Diamond’s optional and Xcel teams head to regionals | ParkRecord.com

Black Diamond’s optional and Xcel teams head to regionals

Black Diamond Gymnastics' Park City teams competed in the USA Gymnastics Utah Optional/Xcel State Meet on March 14 through 17, where the teams earned 20 first-place finishes, 13 second-place finishes and 23 third-place finishes across two competitive categories.

For four of the team's optional-level athletes – the traveling competitive team – that means a trip to Phoenix this weekend, where they will compete in the USAG Region 1 level 6 and 7 regional meet against athletes from Utah, Nevada, Arizona, and California's two regions. Optional teams, as opposed to compulsory teams, get to choose their own routines, giving the athletes some artistic freedom in their performances.

For those level 6 and 7 athletes, including Ganet Dahl, Luli Puchalski, Akacia Christoffersen and Sedona Murdock, this will be their first regional competition at that level.

"The meets are always exciting, but it feels bigger when you're going somewhere else," Murdock said.

As a level 6, Murdock is particularly excited. This is the first year that athletes at her level will be allowed to compete at the regional meet. She also made the state team this year, meaning she had one of the top 12 scores all around at the state competition, and she will compete in Arizona alongside 11 of her peers against other state teams in the region.

Dahl, her level 6 teammate, had the leading score in the state for her floor routine. Meanwhile, Puchalski and Christoffersen were able to score highly enough (earning 35 or more points) to advance to the regional tournament.

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Puchalski said the state meet was her best in a while.

"I hit all my handstands, I stuck my faults, stuck my dismounts and I made a full beam routine without falling, so I felt great and was very proud of myself," she said.

Wendy Hamilton, head coach of the optional team, said the team came into the state meet with a lot of confidence, and performed well against tight competition.

"It comes down to who hits and who hits big, especially at the upper levels," she said.

Three tenths of a point separated first place from 10th in level 7's all-around rankings — calculated by averaging scores from the contestants' four events.

"That's a really small gap," Hamilton said. "Usually you're separated by points."

Puchalski finished 19th overall while Christoffersen was 64th out of more than 80 contestants.

On the Xcel team, which is hosting the USAG 2018 Region 1 Xcel Championships in Sandy this weekend, Hadley Mulholland had the third highest all-around score in the entire state meet across all levels and age groups. More than 900 gymnasts competed.

The Xcel team took bronze overall.