Laney Diggs had finished 5th at Pacific Sectionals and was a last-minute substitute for Vanessa Lam (P1). Laney probably hadn't been practicing her programs much since Sectionals, since she assumed her season was over.
But the competition at Sectionals is easier at the Senior level, believe it or not, than at the Junior and Novice levels. The top 5 Senior ladies from the previous Nationals don't have to do Sectionals, and several of the top 10 Seniors don't do Sectionals because they've been scheduled for GP or "B" internationals that conflict with Sectional dates, or made the JGPF. This year, these included the top 5 from 2012 Nats (Wagner, Zawadzki, Gao, Zhang) plus Gold, Nagasu, Wang and Miller.
Pacific Sectionals was particularly weak this year---there was a big gap in ability after Lam and Hicks to Amanda Hofmann and Sophia Adams. Morgan Bell was the lowest-ranked lady from Midwest Sectionals.
OTOH, all the Juniors except those who made the JGPF have to do Sectionals, and there are no byes for Novice ladies.