By Emma Wenning, Lola Coulter, and Maddy Yorke
Junior Ariana Mathews has had a passion for rock climbing ever since she was was young.
From the beginning of her climbing career, Mathews has had an opportunity that many high school athletes are not able to do: travel around the world competing with people from other countries in the sport that they love. Just recently, Mathews traveled to China for an international youth competition for rock climbing and placed high against hard competition.
This week Denebola sat down with Matthews to find out more about her experiences in climbing and her success in her recent competition.
How long have you been rock climbing? Why did you start?
“I’ve been rock climbing for five years. When I was a kid, I would climb everything: trees, basketball hoops, you name it! One day I tried the climbing wall at the YMCA, and I was hooked. I joined a climbing team shortly afterward, and started competing. Right now I’m on the elite team at Central Rock Gym in Watertown. The gym has a bunch of other teams, too.”
Are you part of a team or club or do you climb individually at your competitions?
“In competitions, the scoring is usually individual, but there are also team awards at bigger competitions like Regionals, Divisionals and Nationals.”
You recently went to China for an international competition. How was your competition? How did you place?
“My competition in Guangzhou, China was the Youth World Championships, and it’s where you get to go if you place high enough at climbing nationals. At Worlds, I ended up 8th in speed climbing and 29th in bouldering. Speed climbing is just like it sounds, a race up the wall. Bouldering is done on short, more difficult climbs without ropes, using just mats for protection.”
Is this the biggest competition you have been to?
“This is one of the biggest competitions I’ve ever been to. I traveled to Italy for Youth Worlds last summer, but I was much more prepared and excited this year.”
Do you want to climb in college?
“I definitely want to keep climbing in college. A lot of colleges have climbing club teams now, even though it’s not an official college sport. I would like to attend college in a place with a lot of outdoor climbing, too, because that’s something that’s really important to me.”
Do you have any hopes for your future competitions whether in the US or internationally?
“In the next few years, it would be amazing to compete at another Youth Worlds and also to climb in adult World Cups. I don’t know for sure where climbing will take me in the future, but I’m super excited to find out.”