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    March 29, 2022 Morgantown, W.Va. RSS |

    Three members of Liberty University’s rock climbing team qualified for the April 21-24 USA Climbing Collegiate National Championships near Philadelphia and led the Flames and Lady Flames to a second-place showing in bouldering and a third-place finish in the lead and top rope competition at Sunday’s Mid-Atlantic Divisional Championships at Gritstone Climbing and Fitness in Morgantown, W.Va.

    “We had three athletes qualify for nationals and two of them qualified in multiple disciplines,” Liberty Head Coach Tyler Campbell said, noting that it will be the first USA Climbing National Championships since 2019. “I was really impressed and really happy about it. To my knowledge, for the history of the program, this is only the second year that we have qualified climbers for nationals, other than in 2015-16, our first season. So it is a huge achievement for them and the team.”

    Arabella King placed 10th in the Mid-Atlantic Divisional lead and top rope women’s competition.

    Senior Gwen Mars placed fourth among women in the lead and top rope competition and sixth in women’s bouldering while sophomore Arabella King came in 10th and 11th, respectively, in the two disciplines. Freshman Dylan Reese earned the 13th and final national qualifying bid in men’s bouldering.

    In bouldering Liberty placed second to the Pitt Climbing Team (233) in the combined team standings with 161 points, followed by third-place Temple (142) in the seven-team competition, The Flames and Lady Flames combined to place third in the lead top rope category with 174 points, behind Pitt (241) and Temple (202).

    Though Liberty brought eight men’s and only five women’s climbers, the Lady Flames scored the majority of the team points — 108 in bouldering and 140 in lead top rope climbing. A total of 101 men entered the bouldering competition compared to only 47 women while 83 men competed in the lead top rope event compared to 39 in the women’s division.

    The Flames had one climber, graduate Brian Taylor, place 14th in the men’s lead top rope event, barely missing the cutoff for nationals. Meanwhile, in the women’s lead top rope category, sophomore Megan Dorsey placed 15th, also just missing the cut.

    Freshman Dylan Reese qualified for nationals in bouldering.

    “They should all be coming back and have another chance,” Campbell said. “Gwen is the only one who is graduating and Dylan is a freshman and Arabella is technically a junior, though this is her first year at Liberty.”

    The Mid-Atlantic Division includes collegiate climbers from Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. Most of the previous four competitions the team had traveled to also involved climbers from colleges and universities in those states.

    Liberty got a sneak peek at the facility that will be used for the national championships, Reach Climbing and Fitness in Bridgeport, Pa., when it traveled there for a Mid-Atlantic Divisional qualifier in early March.

    “We’ll be training hard for nationals over the next three weeks,” Campbell said. “It will be a big challenge and a lot of climbing. They will be climbing every day, Thursday through Sunday, as long as they continue to place high enough to advance to the next round.”

    By Ted Allen/Staff Writer

    King watches other climbers on the wall at the gym in Morgantown, W.Va.