Not sure if this should go in MTB or Juniors. I'll start here in MTB. :)
If she were to place high enough at the state championship race -- actually a qualifier for USA Cycling XC Nats -- they map that Varsity result to Cat 1 / expert Nationals qualification.
Meanwhile, she's interested in racing other, non-NorCal XC qualifiers, like Sea Otter, to try to assure her spot at Nats. USA Cycling has her as Cat 2, since she doesn't have official USA Cycling XC results for a USA Cycling upgrade. (She does have four top-five NorCal Sophomore finishes, however.)
Can she just sign up for Cat 1 at Sea Otter, or is this forbidden without an official USA Cycling upgrade? On the flip side, if she qualifies at the NorCal state championships as Varsity / Cat 1, is she forced to ride Cat 1 at Nats, does she have a choice of Cat 1 / Cat 2 at Nats, or is she forced to ride Cat 2 since she hasn't had an official USA Cycling upgrade?
(We have a question in by e-mail to Jan at USA Cycling earlier this week, but got a vacation message with no other response yet.)
Thanks for your help!