Turns out we shouldn't have underestimated her. The top 10 in each event advanced to finals; Ella placed 9th in sport climbing and 4th in speed climbing. Holy cow.
She and B had to get up before dawn to be back in Harker Heights in time for her to check in at the comp at 7:30. If we had known she'd qualify, we might have looked into having them spend the night at a hotel or something.
This competition served as the qualifiers for Nationals, which are in mid-July in Sandy, Utah. Again, we didn't have any expectation that Ella would qualify - she's only 8, and this is her first year climbing.
And again, we shouldn't have underestimated Ella. She got an invitation to Nationals in speed climbing. A second round of invites will be issued tomorrow, based on how many declined the first round, and she may get an invite for sport climbing.
In the meantime, we're figuring out how to get B and Ella to Utah in a few weeks. This trip wasn't exactly in our summer budget. B's current plan is to make a real trip of it with the two big girls. He'd like to drive out, camping in state and national parks along the way and stopping Sante Fe to visit his uncle. I'm rearranging summer camps and checking on plane cheap plane flights just in case B gets over this case of lunacy.
B and I are beyond proud of Ella. She handled the stress of the competition like a pro, and she was more excited about getting ribbons, free stickers, two climbing magazines, and a calendar with lots of girl climbers on it than she was about anything else. We're hoping she can hold on to that enthusiasm for as long as possible before she starts getting worked up about how many points she scores and whom she beats.