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Locals excel at state

Lauren Struss and Giana Costa picked a great time for some great performances over the weekend at the Level 4, 5 and 6 South State Gymnastics Championships in San Diego.

The pair of Laguna Beach residents came up huge at the year-ending premier event for all of USA Gymnastics.

Struss, 9, won the Level 5 competition, taking the all-around championship with an overall total score of 38.125. That was the highest score among the 58 9-year-old girls who qualified for the meet. She came in first on the beam (9.675) and uneven bars (9.7) and third on the vault (9.25) and floor exercise (9.5).

Struss’ team, Azarian Gymnastics of Aliso Viejo, won first place for Level 5.

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Costa, 8, won second place in the Level 4 floor exercise with a 9.4 in San Diego. She also placed fourth on the vault (9.2) and fourth in the all-around competition scoring (36.3) for her age division.

In her first year of competition, Costa earned her way to the Level 4 State Championships and landed the second-place title for her age division, medaling in every event. Contributing to her stellar rookie year were her coaches Cindy Pacheco and Nadia Zhidkov from Olympic Gymnastics in Laguna Hills, where Costa, a third grader at Top of the World Elementary, trains for 14 hours a week.

"” Matt Szabo



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