Six Eagle Valley Climbing and Fitness climbers are headed to the Division 4 championships
The top 13 athletes at the divisional meet will qualify for nationals in July
Eagle Climbing and Fitness has qualified six climbers to the Lead/Top rope Division 4 championships in Albuquerque on June 3-4.
Dylan Hewitt, Ella Regjo, Iris Sheldon, Reese Manley, Sofia Salazar and Waylon Larson all placed within the top 13 at the Region 42 championships — which covers southern Colorado, most of Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and the Texas panhandle — on May 13 at Gripstone Climbing in Colorado Springs. If they can place in the top 13 at the divisional meet, which will add Region 41’s best, they would advance to the USA Climbing national championships July 9-16 in Salt Lake City.
“We had a really strong showing at regionals and a lot of athletes there,” said coach and gym owner Larry Moore, who had 24 athletes qualify for regionals and saw 21 compete.
One of the days’ bright stories was Manley, who finished 12th in the female youth A age group.
“A year ago she wasn’t even walking without crutches,” Moore said of Manley, who suffered a bad ankle injury requiring an almost year-long recovery.
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At the competition, the first-time divisional qualifier acknowledged the transformation to her coach, remarking, “a year ago I couldn’t even walk on my own.”
Hewitt continued to impress, leading the group with his sixth-place finish. It could have been higher, too.
Each athlete faced three problems, each of which they were given four minutes and one attempt to complete. Hewitt topped his first problem and was salivating as he scanned the second.
“He was really excited about it because there was a big jumping move in it,” Moore said.
“And he got so excited down low, before that move, that he misread a hold and slipped off really, really low.”
Normally an even-keel athlete, Moore said Hewitt was a bit emotional after the mistake, but rallied in a most impressive fashion.
“And we can’t really talk to him because he’s in the competition still, but I just kept saying, ‘you got one more, you got one more,’ to try to get him focused on the next one,” Moore recalled.
Hewitt raced to the top of the third problem on his first try.
“He sent it,” Moore continued. “If he had done as well as he could have on that second one, he would have been on the podium for sure.”
(name, place, age group)
Nora Pyle, sixth (FYD)
Iris Sheldon, seventh (FYB)
Ella Regjo, eighth (FYC)
Sofia Salazar, 11th, (FYC)
Brynley Velez, 11th (FYD)
Reese Manley, 12th (FYA)
Violet Voboril, 14th (FYD)
MaryBeth Friery, 15th (FYA)
Tallulah Beauchamp, 15th (FYD)
Brynn Lindal, 16th (FYB)
Eva Klesner, 19th (FYC)
Lakelynn Wahouske, 22nd (FYC)
Hayley Morahan, 24th (FYC)
Dylan Hewitt, sixth (MYC)
Greyson Gibson, sixth (MYD)
Waylon Larson, 11th (MYC)
Elliot Gray-Lopresti, 14th (MYA)
Braiden Weber, 17th, (MYD)
Logan Weaver, 19th (MYC)
River Gallegos, 20th (MYD)
William Larson, 22nd (MYD)
Sheldon and Regjo, who placed seventh and eighth in female youth B and youth C categories, respectively, are starting to become regular top-10 customers.
“She’s been doing really well in all the USA climbing and ASCL events; so really excited for her to be going again,” Moore said of Sheldon.
“Same with Ella; she went to divisionals in bouldering and now she’s going for rope climbing as well, so she’s another up-and-coming star for our team.”
Larson and Salazar both placed 11th in the respective male and female youth C age group. Larson was the only member of Eagle Climbing’s junior talon team to qualify beyond regionals.
“He’s just a little phenom,” Moore described. “He’s super strong, super motivated.”
Several of Moore’s youth D age-group athletes also placed in the top-13, which would have qualified them to the divisional round in past seasons.
“As USA climbing has grown and become an Olympic sport, we no longer have the youngest athletes move beyond the regional level,” Moore explained. “The premise from Europe is you don’t want to push the youngest kids too hard in competition realms at too young an age or else they burn out easier.”
Instead, the youngest climbers have been invited to culminate their campaigns at the USA Climbing Youth Festival, held in conjunction with the national championships, but a couple of weeks earlier (June 24-25). Moore is excited for his athletes’ opportunities to work with USA Climbing coaches and championship-level route setters.
“They get to do mock competitions and learn about how the setting works and how to read things,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity in lieu of nationals and gives them something to look forward to as well.”
In Albuquerque, the best from Region 41, which only encompasses Colorado’s front range — a testament to its rich talent pool — will compete alongside Region 42 qualifiers. Moore said Region 41 is the strongest in the country and includes several nationally-ranked competitors.
“Divisionals for our kids is like nationals for most because they’re going up against the best of the best,” he said. “It’s a really tough move to get beyond divisionals in our division.”
The competition will be the final one for coach Max Donovan, who is leaving to join the Peace Corps. His last official competition was the regional qualifier back in April, but Donovan — a nationally-ranked climber as a youngster himself — came to Colorado Springs anyway. He made similar travel plans to be in Albuquerque next week.
“He was so committed; he’s been an incredible coach,” Moore said of his head route-setter.
“He just brought a really strong competitive element to the setting with his background and has very intimate knowledge of what competition-style setting is like and climbing as well. He brought a ton to this team, so we’re sad to lose him but excited for his new adventures.”