Rock climbers ascend to new heights in inaugural season
March 4, 2017 | Upper Saddle River, N.J.
Liberty University's first-year men's and women's rock climbing teams concluded their spring seasons with a Collegiate Climbing Series (CCS) competition against Northeast Region competition on Saturday at the The Gravity Vault in Upper Saddle River, N.J.
Out of a field of 230 competitors from large schools with established programs such as Temple, Rutgers, and Connecticut, Liberty's seven men's and seven women's climbers rose to the challenge. Junior Alex Talay was the Lady Flames' top-place finisher in bouldering, placing eighth followed closely by senior Kathryn Aylett (ninth), senior Anna Hurt (10th), and sophomore Hannah Martin (11th).
In men's bouldering, graduate Mark Chauvette placed sixth followed by junior Tristan Landon (ninth) while senior Corey Messer was the Flames' top finisher in the route or sport competition with a 10th-place showing. Liberty's highest women's climber in the route discipline was senior Taylor Cedeno, who placed 20th.
The Flames and Lady Flames, who are members of the Capital Region, traveled to The Crag in Franklin, Tenn., on Feb. 18 to compete in both bouldering and route climbing at a Southeast Region CCS event.
|Liberty climbers Taylor Cedeno (from left), Corey Messer, Alex Talay, and Tristan Landon won ribbons at a Southeast CCS event in Franklin, Tenn.|
In that route competition, Messer finished first among men's climbers and Talay took second while Cedeno placed third among women's climbers. In the bouldering competition, Liberty faced a very strong field of climbers from schools across the East Coast and its best result was a third-place men's showing by Landon.
With no season-ending competition in the Capital Region this semester, Liberty Head Coach Elliot Gaunt has opted not to send any of his climbers to the USA Climbing National Championships in Salt Lake City in late April.
"I was very, very happy with how our team did for our first year," Gaunt said. "It was good to see the potential and the growth, to see the team succeed and progress. We'll start back up in the fall and potentially go to nationals next year."
He was particularly pleased to witness the camaraderie within the team and the encouragement climbers showed to teammates and competitors.
"It's a great group that really supports each other, cares about each other, and wants to see each other succeed," Gaunt said. "I appreciate all their hard work and positivity and to see that they use this sport as a ministry tool. They're not only there to climb and compete and to represent Liberty, but also to represent and to impact others for Christ."