PITTSBURGH – The Goat Fort Thundering Herd climbing team’s second season got off to a “fantastic” start on Saturday at the Iron City Boulders in Pittsburgh.
Ten Thundering Herd members finished the USA Climbing Region 62 event in position to qualify for the Regional Championships. This was the first of five qualifying events that will be held before the Regional Championships.
Though there is still a long way to go before the Regional Championships, Thundering Herd coach Dana Harrington was pleased with the team’s performance at this initial event.
“Granted, this is only the first of five qualifying events and some of the region’s young athletes have not yet completed,” Harrington said. “Nevertheless, this is a fantastic result.”
Harrington said climbers from major cities like Indianapolis, Detroit, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Morgantown, Columbus, and Pittsburgh, and “everything in between” will compete to earn a spot in regionals. Many of those competitors will have the experience advantage over the Thundering Herd, which is in just its second season.
“We are still a very young team, in only our second season,” Harrington said. “Many of the climbers competing in these events have years of experience, and some have been climbing most of their lives. We met one twelve-year-old who has been climbing since he was five. And with over two hundred athletes competing, it can be very intimidating.”
That intimidation was evident early on in the competition, Harrington said, but once the nerves calmed the climbers settled in.
“Early nerves gripped some of our first-year climbers, but once they got a few attempts under their belts the butterflies settled,” Harrington said. “And just like that, they started finishing climbs.”
Climbers are ranked by age and gender and must be in the Top 26 of their category after the final qualifying event to advance to the Regional Championships. Ten Thundering Herd climbers finished Saturday’s event inside the Top 26 in their category.
Those rankings include Lily White, first; Chase Long, fourth; Natalie Muntz, ninth; Audrey Gillies, 10th; Grant and Elodie Criswell, 12th; Atreyu Laska, 13th; Henry Gillies, 14th; and Adelaide Keeports and Isaac Sheldon, 22nd.
“It was a full day of strategy and effort, and our athletes were mentally and physically exhausted,” Harrington said. “We are so proud of our team, and the results were fantastic.”
The Thundering Herd will be back in action in three weeks at First Ascent in Pittsburgh.