Well so far this summer has been rather hectic, and its only going to get more stressful! About six hours after my high school graduation I got on a plane to fly to Miami for my last youth divisional championships, an odd thought. Divisionals was held in the X-treme climbing gym, a pretty cool gym, about 30 feet tall, a lot of vertical with an awesome lead cave. Qualifiers is a two route day, with them taking the top 11 competitors to finals the next day. The first route was pretty easy, a vertical 5.11, and route two was slightly different. It was on a slightly overhung wall, a lot of slopers and high tension moves. After preview I caused a lot of drama. Basically when you got up to clip 5, the route traversed straight left, meaning if you were to skip clip 5, your feet would never pass the clip meaning, by USA climbing rules you technically never skipped the clip. The only reason I was asking is because, since it was flash format, I had known the category who got on it before us struggled a lot with that clip, and if they had skipped it, the next clip was the chain. They wouldn’t have gotten points for the last two clips, but they still would have clipped in order to get credit for the 7 more holds after the last clip. They would still clip the chains, it would just be after they got all the holds. So I ask the judges if there was an imaginary blue X (signifying you must clip from a certain hold) and after they treated me like an idiot for a while, they finally understood my point and put up a blue X we had to clip from. When I got on the route, I got up to where everyone was falling and looked over and realized I could essentially skip the hold that was giving everyone else trouble, I did but I grabbed it, and when I went to regrab, I just missed and fell. I ended second after other five ten athlete Nicholas Milburn did my beta and fell grabbing the finish.
Going into the finals I was pretty confident. I’ve transitioned from relying on ability to relying on my confidence in my couch climbing ability. With all the coaching and school I have been doing, I just didn’t climb that much this year, so I felt pretty out of shape. The route was really long, close to 60 moves, that went into a roof, around a gigantic stalactite then some more roof. After like ten holds I was feeling pretty pumped… but I knew I had to kick it into gear if I had any chance. I tried my hardest to just speed through the rest of the route, not giving myself time to think about anything other than the next hold. I ended up tying for second with Nicholas, behind Dominic Labarge. The route was amazing and nick and I were the only two who tied.
Later that night there was speed climbing, however, different from nationals and our regionals, they didn’t have the IFSC speed wall, and it was just a bunch of holds. After qualifiers I was heading into finals in 4th. Finals though went very poorly and I got 10th, the worst I’ve ever placed. They took 8 to nationals. Luckily for me I have the bestest friends in the world. Dalan Faulkner was in 8th (last spot for nationals) and Nicholas was in 9th. They came up to me after speed climbing was over, and before results were even posted and asked me if I was going to train for speed or not. I told them I would if I got the chance. That night they both declined their speed spots for nationals and I got a third round speed invite. To me, that was one of the coolest things that’s ever happened to me. It meant so much to me that they knew that it meant more to me than it did to them and let me compete. It was Dalans last nationals as well, and Nick is a competitor, they’ve both done speed at nationals their whole lives. So for them to sacrifice something they love, meant so much to me, and if they’re reading this I can’t thank you guys enough for what you did, you didn’t have to do it, you had no obligation to me, nothing. I sincerely am extremely grateful.
The next day we set off for the red for five climbing days. I made a commitment to myself that since I was out of shape, I was going to put all my efforts, energy and skin into running laps and trying my hardest to get in shape. So day one, I did every route in the madness cave to the top. The next day I climbed out all except one 12d at the Brightside, onsighting everything except for skywalker (13b) which I did second try. Give this are a few years and it will be incredible. I fell of skywalker due to breaking off footholds during the crux, and all the other routes were amazing, just a little chausy. The last couple days I spent doing 7 ish 5.13 or harder pitches, and going to Atlanta I felt fit. In Atlanta I had similar goals, as well as working as hard as I possibly could on speed with the opportunity I was given. We had about a week in Atlanta to train before nationals.
Nationals is finally upon us and I start getting all nostalgic because it was my last one because I was aging out. Certainly a weird feeling since it has occupied so much of my time and thoughts. For sport qualifiers day one, I was 36 out of 36 I the running order. After a bunch of hours I flashed our route, as did 20 others. I then went and chilled out in the hotel for a while before speed qualifiers. In speed I got my fastest time of the season, faster than any practice runs, and was in 5th (5 places above what I placed at divisionals) and they take 5 to worlds.
At the start of day two I was feeling pretty confident and excited to compete, a feeling I have never had throughout my competition career. For sport I ended up in 8th, a clip above a five way tie for 9th which included Josh Levin. That day was when I realized just how out of shape I still was. When I got to where I fell I was exhausted. After climbing I went back to the hotel with anticipation for speed that night. Speed Semi finals last year was a disaster so I was determined to do well this time. I ended up 5th again, posting my second fastest time of the season. Needless to say I was so excited for the next day.
Sport climbing semi finals for sport was a disappointing way to end my youth career. I didn’t feel tired, slightly pumped, and half way up the wall, I was moving way to fast and just kinda jumped for a hold that I had no business jumping for and fell. After it was all said and done, I was one place out of finals. I had made finals every year since 2005. It definitely sucked for me, but I was psyched for all the other guys who made it who hadn’t made finals before. I’ve also never been a spectator for finals before.
I still had speed that night though. I went back to the hotel for a few hours to recollect my thoughts and to get psyched. I was so damn psyched for speed finals I couldn’t stand it! I then posted a new second fastest time of the season; however other kids were just faster that day. So I ended overall in 6th. One place out of worlds. I was happy with it though. Since sport climbing at worlds wasn’t an option, I knew I wasn’t going to go, especially with college getting in the way. And I finished four places above where I did at divisionals, so I beat most of the guys from divisionals, along with the other 5 divisions.
This year was pretty special for me. As my first season as a coach our team won the national team championships by one of the largest margins, and it was pretty awesome to see our kids up there. I also received an award for competing all the way through which was emotional. Seeing all the other people who I have grown up with and become best friends with was an extremely emotional moment for me.
So after a disappointing nationals we headed out for west Virginia for a few days at the new. The kicker with that though was that though was that we had 20 kids who learned that there was cliff jumping. So after a warm up and an onsight of Apollo Reed (5.13a) (by the way, amazing. Big moves on good holds, to some baller features out of a roof! We ended up only having two days there, both filled with rain, as well as a lot of swimming, and a lot of cliff jumping. For those of you who have never seen me climb, I am terrified of heights. Therefore, the cliff diving was the single scariest thing for me ever. After the first couple though I started willingly going up the cliffs to jump off.
After the new we drove to Atlanta for a day of climbing to get on the nationals finals routes, which I was extremely excited for! I warmed up, did a couple of the female finals routes, then got on the one I would have climbed. I think I would have placed around 8th if that had been my run. I was pretty tired when I got on it though, between the driving, swimming, and playing ultimate Frisbee, but then again given my recent competition head, I probably would have done about the same.
After Atlanta we finally, after five weeks arrived back in Dallas. Fortunately for me, I get to go back to the red for two more weeks before I’m off to college! This Fall I will be attending Texas A&M with the intent of studying mechanical engineering.
So that’s been my summer so far! I’m feeling really excited for the Red and can’t wait to have a blast getting on new rock climbs! Thanks for reading!