Safford, Stephens Ready for Nationals in Houston

Safford, Stephens Ready for Nationals in Houston

BREVARD, N.C.- Caroline Safford and Matthew Stephens make their final preparations this week for the USA Climbing Collegiate Nationals Competition in Houston on April 20 and 21.

In the Appalachian Regional in Nashville, Tenn., Safford qualified by placing in the top five in the speed event, while Stephens placed second in the bouldering and sport events, and chalked up first place in the speed climb with a time of 05:22 seconds. The climbers are allowed to compete in all three disciplines at the event.

Safford is eyeing the bouldering competition, while Stephens will participate in most of the events held in Houston.

In a recent interview on Coach's Corner, Stephens said he was glad to participate in the national competition as a Brevard student-athlete.

"I'm just getting really excited to go there, climb some awesome problems and represent the school and have fun," said Stephens. Last year, the freshman participated in the USA Climbing Youth Sport and Speed national competition in Kennesaw, Ga.

During the same interview, Safford said improving as a climber and overcoming injury has helped her earn a spot in nationals.

"I have definately seen improvement in my strength, but the biggest improvement that I have seen is my movement," said Safford. "Learning how to look at a route and know what moves I need to do to finish it."

With Brevard having two qualifiers, they are outnumbered by teams with more participants in the competition, but Safford and Stephens are still up for individual honors.

The event will begin on Friday with the qualifying rounds of the three climbing disciplines at the Momentum Katy, and the final rounds will take place on Saturday, as sport and speed will be held at Momentum Katy in the morning and the bouldering championships will be held Saturday afternoon at Momentum Silver Street.