Paul Smith’s College is known for being one of a kind. The unique array of sports that are offered are one of the attributes of our college that earns it this label. This includes our Woodsmen Team, Nordic Skiing, Snowshoe Racing, and the Rock Climbing Team. The Rock Climbing Team has had a member place in every competition they have participated in this semester. This was a result of coach and alumni, Matthew Weich, deciding to step things up for the team this year.
The Rock Climbing Team varies year-to-year depending on the students that show interest in it. On years where the majority of interested students have little to no experience climbing, and are interested in learning how to climb, the team will take on more of a ‘club style’. During those years, Coach Matt teaches team members the basics of belaying, tying in, basic types of movements, types of holds, and beginner skill work. He also introduces them to outdoor climbing and how to safely set up your gear. This was the case last year, when the majority of the team was completely new to the sport. Matt Weich said, “Last year there were quite a few new students, new to climbing. It just made sense to stick with the basics.”
This semester Matt decided to switch things up a little; “Now it’s a lot of the people who were here last year that are ready to step it up a notch,” he explained. He began the climbing season this semester with strict tryouts in which he expressed he would only be accepting 8 members. Around 15 to 20 students tried out for the team, and Matt officially selected 10 members.
Before tryouts, at the beginning of the semester, word spread quickly about a freshman who was a sponsored climber. It didn’t take long for Athletics to connect with the freshman, Sean Meehan, and gave him a job at the Rock Wall and a spot on the team. Sean has been climbing since he was a child, and is sponsored by La Sportiva. With the addition of Sean on our Bobcats Climbing Team, it only made sense to step up the training and preparation for competitions this semester.
This idea paid off. The team spent the beginning of the semester doing endurance training on the wall, and core workouts in the dance studio. Meeting with the coach once a week, team members continued their remaining core training and climbing practice on their own time. By the time the first competition rolled around, the team felt strong and prepared. St. Lawrence University hosted their annual Halloween Competition, in which competitors were encouraged to wear costumes. At this competition, PSC Climbing Team member Sean Meehan took first place in the men’s category, and Bre-Ann Flouton Johnson took first place in women’s category.
Next the Bobcats headed downstate to Halfmoon’s The Edge’s Orange Crush 2017 Bouldering Competition. PSC finished with Andrew Ingersoll taking 1st Place and Ryan Novak earning 2nd Place in the Men’s Beginners Category. The Climbing Team concluded their season at Metro Rock’s Heady Top-out Bouldering Competition in Burlington, VT. Here, PSC finished with Katherine Gale earning 1st Place in the Women’s Beginners Category.
Next semester the Climbing Team is losing a member, Ken Alton, as he is graduating. Despite losing a veteran team member, the higher intensity training and competition involvement isn’t going anywhere. The team will continue to participate in competitions, and potentially join the registry with USA Collegiate Climbing. During Spring Break, four members will be heading out to Red Rock, Nevada for some amazing guided climbing experiences.
The team has yet to enter a competition and not have a member place in any category. Hopefully next semester, this success streak will continue. Additionally, the PSC Climbing Team will be hosting a competition here on our campus during the Spring 2018 semester. This competition will be open to all students and the public. Keep your eye out for advertisements around campus, and come down and join the Bobcats on the rocks!