It was an exhilarating feeling.
At the same time, it was a lonely feeling.
When it came to her experience at the 2018 state meet, Julia Petty most likely had mixed emotions.
Perhaps Eric Carmen or Céline Dion sang it best when it came to Petty’s awkward situation.
"All by myself."
Fast forward to one year later and it’s safe to say that Gilbert O’Sullivan’s song won’t be blaring when the 2019 state gymnastics competition takes place.
That’s because Petty won’t be "Alone Again."
The Hudson gymnastics team grabbed the fifth and final qualifying spot at a district competition Saturday at West Geauga High School in Chesterland.
The Explorers scored 139.85 points to advance after failing to qualify the previous year.
Hudson is scheduled to compete at the state meet this Friday and Saturday at Hilliard Bradley High School.
Since the Explorers fell just a tenth of a point short of reaching Hilliard last season, Petty, who advanced on the uneven parallel bars, the balance beam and the all-around competition, was Hudson’s lone representative at the 2018 state meet.
This time she will have plenty of company. Even better, she isn’t the lone individual qualifier, either.
Junior Sydney DePompei and sophomore Alyssa Bezdek will be joining Petty during Saturday’s individual competition.
"We’re super excited to be going," Explorers head coach Megan Mertz said. "We tried to stop talking about last year, but the girls knew it. It was in the back of their minds."
They won’t be looking back this time.
Petty, who has been nothing short of excellent throughout the season, advanced in three of the four events, along with the all-around competition.
The versatile junior placed sixth on the uneven parallel bars (9.225), tied for 12th on vault (9.05) and 15th on the floor (9.05). Her all-around score of 35.625 was good for 14th place. The top 16 gymnasts in each event qualified for the state meet.
"Unfortunately, she fell on the beam, but she has been a key part to this team," Mertz said.
DePompei rebounded from a rough sectional meet to advance in the floor exercise. She finished in a tie for sixth place with a score of 9.325.
"This is Sydney’s first year on this team," Mertz said. "She hadn’t been part of the tournament experience. She didn’t know what to expect."
Bezdek punched her ticket to Southwest Ohio after finishing in a tie for 12th place with a score of 8.7 on the beam.
"It was exciting for her," Mertz said. "The past couple of weeks, she has shown what she can do on beam. She has been our go-to girl in that event."
Also competing for Hudson in the individual events Saturday were senior Lina Ikhlef and sophomore Sam Sigler, who both performed on the floor.
Ikhlef just missed advancing with an 18th-place score of nine points. Sigler placed 25th (8.925)
"It was a little disappointing for Lina," Mertz said. "It was the same thing for [senior] Makayla [Hudy] at sectionals."
In the end, both seniors have another chance to make a final lasting impression.
Thanks to Hudson’s finish at West Geauga, Ikhlef and Hudy, along with the rest of their teammates, will give it a go one more time on the grandest stage of all.
"They all kind of vibe off each other," Mertz said. "If the first girl falls, the other girls feel more pressure. They’re excited. They’re ready to finish."
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, firstname.lastname@example.org or @FrankAceto_RPC.