Two dozen or so of Larry Moore’s Eagle Climbing and Fitness athletes capped off the competition calendar and kicked off the summer climbing season by participating in Thursday’s GoPro Youth Climbing competition at the Mountain Games. Elliot Grey-Lopresti took the male youth A win, earning some redemption after just missing qualifying for the USA Climbing Division 4 meet, held June 3-4 in Albuquerque.
“It was literally like one hold that kept him from going to divisionals,” Moore said. “Yeah, nice to come back to his hometown and stand on the podium in first place — that’s kind of a big deal.”
Moore sent six athletes — Dylan Hewitt, Ella Regjo, Iris Sheldon, Reese Manley, Sofia Salazar and Waylon Larson — to the Division 4 championships, which combined the top-13 athletes from both Region 42 and Region 41. The former covers southern Colorado, most of Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and the Texas panhandle while the latter is just the front range of Colorado.
“Our divisional is like most national events because it has the strongest region in the nation — the front range,” Moore said. The coach and gym owner said it wasn’t the group’s strongest competition, but he was happy to see athletes like Reese Manley give it their all after not being able to walk a year ago. Manley returned to the Mountain Games and placed fourth in the female youth A competition.
Eagle Climbing and Fitness owned the male youth C competition. Dylan Hewitt, who placed 21st at divisionals, was second and Waylon and Wyatt Larson finished fourth and sixth, respectively. Sofia Salazar also found the podium, placing third in the female youth C category.
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“Tough set — it’s a big wall, it’s a different format, so it’s generally kind of a hard competition,” Moore said of the Mountain Games’ red point format. Athletes were able to try any of the 20 problems as many times as they wanted and were scored on their five best climbs.
“The kids did well; they performed well, they had fun and tried hard,” he continued.
“(It’s) just kind of fun and you know we want to make competition fun anyway, so it’s a good format for that.”
Moore said the standalone competition gathered athletes from outside Colorado, too. “It’s very popular because now we’re going to see the best climbers in America.”
The North American Cup series events started on Thursday with the women’s qualifier. The men’s and women’s finals are Saturday night at 5 p.m. Nicholas Olson, one of Moore’s strongest Eagle Climbing and Fitness alumni, will be in the field.
“He’s kind of an unbelievable story,” Moore said of the Battle Mountain graduate and soon-to-be CU sophomore. Olson, who made the USA Climbing nationals in both lead and bouldering in 2021, made the Buffs climbing team as a freshman last year.
“Which is a big deal,” Moore explained.
“I haven’t had an opportunity to see him climb in a competition format in college. But, he’s gotten stronger than he was and he was very strong. He’s doing one-arm pull-ups and all kind of crazy stuff.”
Another CU student, Colin Duffy, who placed seventh at the Tokyo Olympics as a 17-year-old — and who Climbing.com said “could become one of climbing’s all-time greats” before it’s all said and done — is also in the competition. Duffy won a total of 10 USA Climbing youth national titles and was the youngest climber in the Olympic competition. Notably, he took first in both lead and boulder at the Innsbruck, Austria world cup competition in June of 2022, becoming the first American ever to win both disciplines at the same world cup event.
Duffy isn’t even the top performer at the NAC event in Vail, however, as he will be joined by Tokyo silver medalist Nathaniel Coleman. The 26-year-old Utah-native was a three-time bouldering national champion.
With USA Climbing competitions wrapped up, Moore said now it’s time for his athletes to leave the building he opened back in 2018.
“Our big focus for our team is climbing outdoors. That’s why I built a climbing gym — so you could climb safely, get strong, to go out and enjoy the outdoor environment,” said Moore, who takes kids outside to climb five days a week during the summer months.
“So that’s kind of our big focus in the summer because they’re out of school, the weather is good and that’s kind of what climbing’s really all about: being in the wilderness and pulling on real rock.”