I think that the fact that her mother was terminally ill could have something to do with that. As Mao herself said later, every time she left her hometown she was worried she won't ever see her mother alive again. Furthermore, because her father and sister spent as much time by Kyoko's side as possible, Mao had to get a driving license to drive herself to practices and take care of preparing her meals. Meanwhile, according to coach Sato, Mao was struggling with gaining muscular mass and having weight issues (according to Mao, caused by a late growth spurt, but possibly the grief and mental stress contributed as well).
Originally Posted by NMURA
IMHO a cheesefest competition just wasn't on her mind as a priority back then, both for emotional and physical reasons.