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ELEV8 Climbing Gym’s Youth Competitive Climbing Team Making a Mark

ELEV8 Climbing Gym in Traverse City is the only gym in Northern Michigan with a competitive youth climbing team.

More than a dozen kids are on the team from ages 8 to 17, and their courage to take on a new challenge is paying off.

“We had a lot of conversations about what we wanted to do with this space and that eventually, we would put a climbing team together,” said Tanner Stricklane, Head Coach of the ELEV8 Competitive Youth Climbing Team. “We had tryouts in August and kids joining the team in September, and we’ve been running ever since.”

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Evi Vlach is the youngest member of the ELEV8 Competitive Youth Climbing Team.

“I really like climbing and wanted to climb with other kids close to my age and older,” said Evi Vlach.

Her teammates include Ali Maxson and Hazel Sang.

“I like climbing trees. I did not expect to be good at it, but I like it,” said Hazel Sang.

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The oldest member of the team is Vivian Gunn.

“I like the mental and physical parts of climbing. It’s an effort from a whole bunch of different angles and not just like physical or just mental,” explained Vivian Gunn.

All four girls qualified for Pennsylvania regionals within their first few months of competing.

“We went to two or three qualifying events during the bouldering portion of the season. There you get different points for how you place at a qualifying event. Then the top 26 kids in our region for gender and age get to go on to regionals,” explained Stricklane.

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Gunn made it passed regionals to divisionals.

“When it was my time to go out, I just got my head down, and I didn’t like looking at anybody else. So there wasn’t that competitive like, because I wasn’t concentrating on what they were doing. I was concentrating more on what I had to do,” explained Gunn.

Gunn’s divisional competition is in Chicago in February.