UWG climbs to the top

Photo Credit: Molly
Photo Credit: Molly Stassfort

The University of West Georgia Rock Climbing Team is in its third year of competition in the Collegiate Climbing Series. Although UWG has never hosted a competition at its own wall, towering at 48 feet, it boasts a talented crew of climbers who travel across the Southeast region to show off their skills. Comprised of six men and four women, this season’s team is working hard to progress from last year’s third place spot at regionals held at Clemson University.

“We have a stronger overall team this year,” said Climbing Team Vice President, Ashley Bailey. “We don’t rely so much on strength now. We rely more on technique, which makes you a better climber.”

This is Bailey’s third year on the team and second as Vice President. As her last year as a collegiate climber, Bailey wants to see this season’s team succeed more than ever.

“For this season, I think each climber can progressively get better,” said Bailey. I think we can advance from last year’s third place to being the number one team in the region.”

President Austin Cross, a sophomore at UWG, administrated the Climbing Team. This is his first year acting as President to the team but second year as a member.

“My job is to schedule competitions and make sure everything goes smoothly,” said Cross. “I enjoy getting to run [the team] and travel to all the different schools to compete with my friends.”

Another member of the team is sophomore Sydney O’Brien, who serves has been on the team for two years and serves as the Safety Officer.

“My favorite thing about the climbing team is getting to travel to all of the different schools’ walls and getting to go to competitions for free,” said O’Brien.

At the first competition, at the University of Alabama (UAB) at Birmingham, sophomore Blake Whitehurst placed third in the Men’s Advanced category and Bailey placed first in the Women’s Advanced. The next weekend at UAB, Whitehurst placed third in Men’s Advanced again and Bailey placed third in Women’s Advanced.

With last weekend’s Clemson University competition results pending, the team only has three more competitions until regionals at Active Climbing Gym in Athens, GA. The team will travel to Valdosta State University, Georgia Technical College and Georgia Southern University before ending their southeast travels in Athens.

With the Collegiate Climbing Series Nationals in San Diego, CA, on April 17-18, these climbers have their eye on making a name for UWG in the national climbing community.

“This year we hope to send four climbers to nationals,” said Cross.

This is the most expensive and prestigious journey the team will make since its formation. This year’s team, which includes Bailey, Cross, O’Brien and Whitehurst, as well as Johan Appelros, Jared Ashley, Stephen English, Ryan Governale, Sydney Shepard, and Margaret Tatum, are ready to fight for the chance to be on the plane to California.

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