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I think it's probably a matter of sharpness.
I've noticed that my game bounces up and down pretty heavily depending on how much practice I've been getting.
When I left high school I was probably a solid 5.5, took about 5 years off (put on 80 lbs, probably lost a ton of muscle mess), and then started back playing at 3.0, bumped to 3.5, then to 4.0 where I struggled for about the first month or so at practice and my first match, but I've won 0,1 and 1,1 in my last two matches.
The difference? I always start out sluggish at whatever level I'm at because I'm usually busy at the beginning of the year with work/school, and by the late spring, I have more time to practice, and become sharper, which can make all the difference in the world.
I'm guessing that players from the warmer regions who are serious about competing top out in sharpness, at their particular level, so aren't good enough to get bumped, but are playing as well as they could for their given abilities. Those in the colder climates are probably not playing as often during the winter, and have to get sharp again as the year goes on, perhaps not even playing their best once they go to nationals.
I can say that the teams from AZ (especially Phoenix) tend to be stronger than those from my home state NM. I think a large part of it is from people self-rating lower than they should be. This seems to be more cut-throat in Phoenix.
It is hard to say based on just one match, but I beat a 4.5 from CA fairly easily and I'm a NM 4.5...