2022 Collegiate National Championship Concludes

The 2022 USA Climbing Collegiate National Championship, held at Reach Climbing and Fitness in Bridgeport, PA closed with Lead Finals on Sunday, April 24th. The event selected the athletes to represent the USA at the 2022 World University Championship of Sport Climbing in Innsbruck, Austria.

Livestreams of the four day event can be found here, full event results can be found here, and our Facebook photo galleries will continue to be updated with additional images.

John Burgman, a very well respected writer in the world of competitive climbing, penned a comprehensive recap of last week’s events which you can find below.

Student-Athletes Shine at This Year’s Collegiate National Championship
By John Burgman

The Collegiate 2022 National Championship wrapped up on Sunday, concluding four action-packed days of climbing (April 21-24) across three disciplines at Reach Climbing + Fitness in Bridgeport, Pennsylvania.

Bouldering delivers star-making moments
The women’s division was marked by an early back-and-forth bouldering battle between Melina Costanza of the University of Pennsylvania and Maya Madere of Stanford University. Each competitor topped all boulders of the qualification round to separate slightly from the pack. However, Cloe Coscoy and Audrey Miller, both of the University of Utah, cruised to tops on every boulder of the semi-finals to set-up a thrilling final round.

Costanza, Miller, Madere, and Coscoy remained closely aligned on the scorecards in the finals, until a steep second boulder created substantial separation. Coscoy fought up the boulder’s long, pinchy mid-section, but could not transition into the boulder’s upper volumes; Costanza and Madere were able to continue through that section of quarter-sphere volumes (and find crucial knee-bar rests along the way) to secure tops. Shortly thereafter, Madere enlivened the crowd with a buzzer-beating top on the third boulder (reminiscent of a similar buzzer-beating top at National Team Trials last month). Nekaia Sanders, Coscoy, and Costanza promptly topped the third boulder as well.

Costanza eventually concluded the bouldering finals with a total of three tops to secure the gold medal. Madere, also with three tops—but more attempts than Costanza—claimed the silver medal, and Coscoy rounded out the podium with the bronze. During the post-event interview, Costanza stated, “There was not one gimme [boulder], and I love that in a climbing round. I think that this was the most fun I’ve had competing in a really long time.”

The men’s division was highlighted by remarkable consistency of Joe Goodacre of the University of Denver and Noah Wheeler of Colorado College through the early bouldering rounds. Wheeler had a slight edge in the scores heading into the finals, but several competitors (including Gabriel Galen, Ben Blackmore, Derek New, and Nicholas Montella) came on strong in the finals. Galen’s dynamic top of the round’s slabby fourth boulder, which featured a noteworthy mono-pocket, proved to be a highlight of the round and earned Galen the gold medal. Blackmore, who impressively topped that fourth boulder in less than a minute, earned the silver, and Wheeler secured the bronze.

The men’s bouldering discipline was not without other highlight-reel moments, including Wheeler being the only competitor to top the overhanging third boulder late in the final round. And the entire day was bettered by a vocal crowd of supportive spectators who stood shoulder-to-shoulder in the packed Reach gym to cheer on the climbers.

Speed comes down to the wire
The Speed discipline featured some of the most exciting races contested on American soil this year, as well as some of the fastest recorded times at the collegiate level.

Contested in the same elimination/bracket format that is standard on the international circuit, the final round of the women’s Speed division kicked off with victories by Emma Wetsel of the University of Vermont and Helen Stephens of Georgia Tech. One of the most riveting races of the competition came in a back-and-forth heat between Mia Bawendi and Lauren Smith. Bawendi had a slight slip near the top of the wall, which proved just enough for Smith to take the lead and secure a win with a time of 11.12 seconds (compared to Bawendi’s 11.14 seconds).

Smith, who is part of Colorado State University’s climbing team, continued with another narrow victory over Amanda Brownstein of the University of Utah. This win set up a Big Final race between Smith and Wetsel, which Wetsel won with a time of 9.99 seconds to claim the gold medal. Smith took silver, and Stephens had a come-from-behind victory over Brownstein in the Small Final to claim bronze.

In the men’s Speed division, Michael Finn-Henry posted nearly flawless runs throughout the final round—first beating Brendan Nixon in a fast race, then beating Aidan Goddard of the University of Utah by just 0.83 seconds, and finally edging out Joe Goodacre in the Big Final (with a fast time of 6.10 seconds) to earn the gold medal. Darren Skolnik held off Goddard in the Small Final to claim bronze.

Lead showcases some of the nation’s best
Melina Costanza parlayed the momentum of her victorious bouldering performance into the women’s lead climbing round. Situated in first-place after the semi-finals, she battled up the lead finals’ steep arête route, eventually surpassing the blue half-moon-shaped hold on the route’s upper portion that served as the crux for many competitors. Moments later, higher up the wall, Costanza reached a quartet of gray volumes, thus matching a high-point established earlier by Audrey Miller.

Costanza fell while working across the gray volumes—with a score of 32+, the same score as Miller. But in countback to previous rounds, Costanza was awarded the gold; Miller was awarded silver, and Maya Madere earned the bronze.

The men’s lead final also came down to countback to previous rounds, with Charlie Osborne and Derek New both progressing methodically up the 50-degree overhung wall to establish scores of 39+. In countback, Osborne was deemed the winner and the gold medalist, with New earning silver and Stefan Fellner of the University of Utah earning bronze.

Featuring challenging start beta that some competitors—such as Samuel Hsin of the University of Colorado—chose to read as a run-and-jump, the men’s results proved to be particularly varied, ranging in scores from 17 to that winning score of 39+.

Camaraderie thrives at the collegiate level
One of the greatest assets of the Collegiate National Championship each year is not just the collective performance of the competitors, but the school spirit displayed by the various climbing teams. To that point, the University of Utah was declared to be the Bouldering Team Champions, the Lead Team Champions, and the Overall Team Champions.

In addition to the aforementioned schools, some of the institutions represented throughout the four-day event included the University of Central Florida, Tufts University, Vanderbilt University, Miami Dade College, the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Texas, Temple University, Brevard College, Gonzaga University, the University of Oklahoma, the University of Oregon, Purdue University, the University of Arizona, and many more.

Furthermore, the Collegiate National Championships continually showcase climbers as student athletes, aligned with the NCAA’s mission to “integrate intercollegiate athletics into higher education so that the educational experience of the student-athlete is paramount.”

The collegiate majors and areas of academic focus from this year’s roster of competitors was diverse and included engineering, biology, chemistry, philosophy, and political science. “These are student athletes—they’re not just athletes, which makes it so much more impressive,” stated Darren Skolnik, who provided commentary for the event with Al Smith and Michael Feinberg when not competing.



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