Rock climbers test the ropes in first open team competition
October 22, 2016 | Midlothian, Va.
Liberty University's rock climbing team made its official debut as a Club Sports program, with one team member reaching the finals of Saturday's Boulder Brawl, an open event hosted by the Peak Experiences indoor climbing center in Midlothian, Va.
"It was a full-sized commercial gym and they put on a great competition with 80-100 participants," Flames Head Coach Elliot Gaunt said. "It was mostly a citizen's competition where outside members could come in and it was on the higher end of the difficulty spectrum compared to what we will see against other schools. For our first competition as a team, we had a good turnout and we learned a lot."
A total of 15 members of Liberty's men's and women's teams entered beginner, intermediate, advanced, and open categories, with the top five scorers throughout the competition advancing to the final round. Flames junior Tristan Landon, who serves as rock wall monitor at the LaHaye Recreation & Fitness Center, was Liberty's only finalist, placing fourth overall in a bouldering competition that featured up to V9 problems.
Each athlete had five minutes to try to tackle each problem individually, without any of the other finalists in the room watching the attempt.
"Tristan was able to flash the first boulder on men's problem No. 1," Gaunt said. "He walked out and did it on the first try and moved onto the second problem and did quite well, which was a high point for him, before he ran out of energy on men's problem No. 3 and ended up dropping down to fourth."
|Lady Flames watch one of their team members compete on Saturday.|
It was Gaunt's first time serving as a coach after entering several climbing events as a competitor.
"It's tough to be a spectator (but) I loved to be able to invest in the students with my experience from the past," he said, noting the first taste of competition left Liberty's climbers hungry for more. "In this competition, we were testing the waters and see who could capitalize come competition time and really excel. They had a great time, we learned a lot and should be able to take a lot away from the experience and apply it to future competition and growth as a team."
The Flames and Lady Flames will again travel with a team of 15 men's and women's (to be selected next week) to the season's first Collegiate Climbing Series (CCS) event, Nov. 4 in Roanoke at the River Rock Climbing Gym. As many as 10 schools from the Capital region will be represented, including Liberty, Roanoke College, Virginia Tech, and Virginia.
On Oct. 14, team members not required to work the event led the way at Liberty's Fall Bouldering Competition, which attracted a total of 62 participants to the LaHaye Rock Wall.
Benjamin Vincent placed first in the advanced men's category, followed by junior Mark Chauvette and senior Corey Messer. Taylor Cedeno was the top-placed female and Casey Mahoney finished third in the beginner women's category.