Rock climbing team ready for first USA Collegiate competition Saturday in Maryland
Ten members of Liberty University’s climbing team will make their USA Collegiate Climbing season debut Saturday in a bouldering comp held at the Boulder Yard in Frederick, Md.
After tryouts in September, Flames and Lady Flames first-year Head Coach Tyler Campbell kept a roster of 18 climbers. About half have competitive climbing experience, or at least were members of last year’s team that was restricted from competing due to the pandemic.
“Then, the other half are fairly new to climbing, but they are ready to put some time in and are up for the type of training we do,” Campbell said.
He said the group is eager to begin competing after a nearly two-year layoff from USA Climbing-sanctioned events.
“There is a lot of excitement on the team as only two of them have been to a collegiate competition before,” Campbell said. “The people that were on the team last year are probably even more excited than the new people we have this year because they’ve been waiting even longer (to compete).”
The men’s travel roster includes graduate Brian Taylor, junior Kody Herbert, seniors Kyler Gilbert and Cole Kroner, and freshman Dylan Reese, who Campbell says has tremendous potential.
“Dylan has really been doing really well in bouldering,” he said. “He’s really been pushing and getting stronger recently through team training and personal training and I expect him to place and do well at this competition.”
The Lady Flames making the trip to Frederick are seniors Katie Bridgman, Vanessa Gulchuk, and Gwen Mars and sophomores Megan Dorsey and Arabella King, with Mars bringing the most experience.
The Flames and Lady Flames will again send five men and five women to a Dec. 4 comp at Crimper’s Climbing Gym in Blacksburg, Va., and another in the spring semester on Feb. 26 before the postseason.
Previously a member of the Capital Division, Liberty is now in the Mid-Atlantic, with Virginia being the southernmost state competing against other colleges and universities from Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and West Virginia. (Previously, the team competed against schools from North Carolina and Tennessee rather than Pennsylvania and New Jersey).
Besides Liberty, climbers from JMU, Virginia, Virginia Tech, and George Mason are regular in-state competitors.
To qualify as an individual for the Mid-Atlantic Divisional championships set for March 26-27 at a location to be determined, climbers must compete in at least two regular-season events. The top three men and women in each discipline at regionals qualify for the April 22-24 USA Collegiate Climbing National Championships.
A few of the team members that did not make the travel squad will compete in Friday’s annual Bouldering Competition at the LaHaye Rock Wall, with $5 registration available online and climbing open from 2-9 p.m.
By Ted Allen/Staff Writer