Eagle Climbing and Fitness athletes compete at American Scholastic Climbing League state competition
Eagle Valley freshman Iris Sheldon leads the way with 14th place overall finish
Iris Sheldon led a group of five Eagle Climbing and Fitness athletes at Saturday’s American Scholastic Climbing League state championships in Broomfield, placing 14th overall out of 62 climbers in the girls varsity competition.
“My climbs went really great,” the Eagle Valley freshman said, adding that she completed all of her rope climbs on the first attempt. “My boulder problems were a little bit harder; I didn’t do as well on those, but you know, it evened itself out.” Isabella Orner of Rock Canyon was the individual champion while Cherry Creek took the team title.
“It was a very difficult competition. The competition was tough,” said gym owner and coach Larry Moore. A total of nine Eagle Climbing and Fitness athletes, representing all four area high schools, qualified for the state championships, but two elected to not compete.
“Super proud of them for making it all the way to the state championships. That’s a huge accomplishment in and of itself,” Moore continued. “We’re very proud of them for their efforts the entire season.”
Several of Moore’s athletes train and compete both in USA Climbing events — the bouldering season recently concluded — and for their high schools in the American Scholastic Climbing League (ASCL) competitions.
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“ASCL as a whole is a much different vibe than USA Climbing,” explained Eagle Valley sophomore MaryBeth Friery, who placed 42nd. “It’s very relaxed and it’s not very rigid. There’s a lot more opportunity to talk to other people. One of my favorite parts about it is being able to get information and learn from other climbers that are more experienced and better at climbing than I am.”
Friery said that it took awhile to get into the zone mentally on Saturday.
“At the start, I definitely struggled a little bit to get into the flow of climbing and just really get myself excited for it. I’m not as strong climbing on ropes as I am bouldering and ASCL is a combination,” she said.
“So, trying to get into the mindset of ropes and then bouldering — it’s definitely difficult. Towards the end, when I was able to get into bouldering, that’s when I was able to get more excited. I was feeling much better about my performance after I had multiple climbs under my belt.”
Sheldon, who has been on the podium multiple times in ASCL qualifiers and was third in the regional earlier this month, came into the competition mostly looking to have fun and soak in the experience. “I wasn’t expecting to do well,” she said. Needless to say, she exceeded her expectations.
“Overall, especially since I’m a freshmen and on the younger side, I think I did well and I’m proud of myself,” she said.
Friery’s goal for state was to maximize the new environment.
“Honestly, the thing I do most time in competitions is try to take advantage of the different settings, styles and the different gyms,” she explained. “Coming from a small gym — our walls are a lot shorter than other places or we’re just limited to a smaller place — (so) being in a much more open and larger gym and having those opportunities to be exposed to that can help you improve a lot.”
Moore agreed, adding, “This is a great experience for them to realize how challenging the competition is when you get to the state level, and to practice climbing on different walls and different gyms to get accustomed to being in a new environment.”
Other area finishers included Zeme Brauholtz of Vail Mountain School, who finished 29th in the junior varsity state competition. Reese Manley, who made an incredible comeback this season from a serious injury, was proud to make it to state, but after multiple falls high up on the wall, didn’t have the energy to complete her scorecard for submission.
On the boys side, Gore Ranger Connor Cooley was 17th in the junior varsity division and Elliot Gray-LoPresti and Finn McCurdy placed 29th and 37th, respectively, in the varsity. Austin Reitz won the boys title for Cheyenne Mountain School and Western Slope power Colorado Rocky Mountain School won the team title. CRMS was led by Devin Bush — who narrowly beat Gray-LoPresti at the regional earlier this month — in fourth place.
“They’re kind of on the younger side in the high school league so they’ve got a few more years,” Moore said of his group.
Despite the age, the camaraderie amongst teammates has pushed each athlete to new heights.
“I believe that a lot of progress in the sport can be largely based off of your team,” Friery said. “And so, a large part of my success, I can give that credit to my team and coaches for helping me get through everything and I give a lot of my success to them.”
Sheldon is hoping that as her prep career continues, that team gets bigger.
“Going into next year, I really want to get more people to join the climbing team at Eagle Valley High School,” she said. “Right now, we only have four of us from Eagle Valley on the team, so I’d like to create a bigger Eagle Valley ASCL team so we can compete at more comps and get more recognition for our school.”