"I didn't really expect (a title) at all," McLaughlin said. "I was like 'that's different.' "
McLaughlin recalled the whirlwind moments after winning a state title and having her hard work pay off.
"I had no idea what was going on (after taking first)," McLaughlin said. "The entire day felt like a blur. I realized that everything was coming together at the right moment."
McLaughlin qualified for the National Championships last year but was unable to grab any titles. She said that qualifying last year will help her appreciate the national championships and allow her to stay focused both in and out of the gym.
"I feel like I kind of rushed the whole weekend (last year)," McLaughlin said. "I feel like I took a lot of good opportunities to place for granted and then those opportunities were gone."
Regardless of how she places in Michigan, McLaughlin said she will have support from her teammates.
"We've become pretty much like family," she said.
The close-knit relationship she has with her teammates has allowed McLaughlin to consider competing in college and following in the footsteps of some of her teammates who compete at the collegiate level. McLaughlin said she values the sacrifices and hard work that her teammates have invested in gymnastics to reach the collegiate level.
Like her teammates, McLaughlin has had to make hard decisions to excel in her sport. She travels to Harrisburg five days a week to train with Artistic Sports Academy Plus and mentioned that she is forgoing the chance to attend her high school prom to compete at the National Championships.
McLaughlin has been competing since she was 10 and advises gymnasts getting their start in the sport to keep the sport in perspective.
"(Remember) to have fun with it and have no regrets," McLaughlin said. "The important stuff is more than placing and winning."