Creek Climbing Performs at State Championships, Girls’ Varsity Takes First Place

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Katya Roudakov

Junior Michelle Markevych hangs off a handhold on boulder 18. “I saw everyone finish the comp strong physically, mentally, and emotionally,” Markevych. “Even if the scores weren’t exactly what they wanted.”

Creek’s climbing team competed in their state championship on Saturday at the G1 Climbing + Fitness gym in Broomfield on Feb. 24. The Varsity Girls’ team won the competition, and some individual climbers placed on the podium as well.

Highlighted by junior Michelle Markevych’s score of 8,269, the girls’ varsity team took first place in the team competition. “As a whole, I’m astonished. It has been one of my long-term goals to podium at State Championships, so obtaining my goal after training for a full year was a surreal experience,” Markevych said. “I saw each individual fighting for their goals, having fun, and showing support for each other…throughout the whole climbing season. I am so pleased to be part of such an understanding and encouraging team.”

Boys’ varsity did not place in the team finals, but sophomore Caden Shrewsbury took third place in the boys’ individual category, with a score of 9,322. His day featured a completion of the 19th rope route, the second hardest to complete in the competition.

“I felt really proud of the results for both myself and the team,” Shrewsbury said. “I know everyone has been working extremely hard for this event.”

In the Junior Varsity competition, boys placed seventh, and girls placed second. Junior Lianka Pechova finished fourth in JV girls’ individual with a score of 4,957.

“I have mixed feelings about how I did at the comp. On one hand, I’m a little disappointed because I was just five (out of 9,886) points away from getting third place,” Pechova said. “On the other hand, I’m proud of helping the JV girls’ Creek team get second in the team standings. I had so much fun climbing and competing, which is obviously the most important.”

The Creek season’s highlight was when both boys and girls finished first at DBC North on Feb 4. Girls’ varsity, throughout the season, won first place at seven of their 10 competitions, including the postseason.

“This season has been such a delight to participate in,” Markevych said. “I’ve really opened up my social circle, explored the possibilities past my comfort zone both off and on the wall.”

Boys’ varsity won several competitions of their own, including a first-place finish at Movement Englewood on Jan. 8. They had a good start to their season, getting second place in their first three competitions.

“This season was an incredible experience and it is really cool to see more and more people come to this sport,” Shrewsbury said. “Everyone really tried their hardest and I think their hard work paid off.”

Senior Varsity climber Autumn Christeson is proud of the way her climbing season ended. “Nothing feels better than having your entire team share in the success and happiness,” Christeson said. “Placing individually is awesome, but to place as a team, brings this contagious sense of community and pride.”

Christeson can recall the moment that Creek was officially crowned champion. “We all sat there with that hopeful doubt as third and second place was called,” Christeson said. “To then hear ‘Cherry Creek’ and the eruption of applause was the best farewell. It made me feel so grateful to have been a part of this team these last four years, to have been able to receive endless support and friendship.”

COVID completely changed the way that climbing practiced and competed. They went through many different practice formats, and competitions had to be majorly modified to fit pandemic restrictions.

“State this year brought my experience full circle,” Christeson said. “Everyone was finally back together. Everything finally felt normal.”

Climbing Head Coach Liz Donaldson enjoyed watching the competition and felt satisfied by the team’s success throughout the season. “I am so proud of their effort, positive attitudes, and support of one another,” Donaldson said. “The climbing team is composed of athletes who support one another in all competitive settings and we’ve had such a great season.”

See moments from the championship below.

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  • Coaches alongside belayers watch competitors climb the walls above them.

  • Senior Autumn Christeson climbs route 14. Only four female climbers submitted route 14 as one of their top five climbs.

  • Junior Sophia Diaz-DaCruz uses a bicycle, a combination of a heel hook and toe hook, on boulder 14.

  • Senior Talia Wallen watches her teammate in between attempts.

  • The awards plaques sit on a table. Athletes collected their accolades during a ceremony after the competition.

  • Assistant Coach Zane Scott-Tunkin encourages one of his climbers above. Scott-Tunkin and Head Coach Liz Donaldson both teach at Campus Middle School, coaching the climbing team part-time.

  • Parents watch climbers from the upstairs mezzanine.

  • Junior Ellie Ross hangs onto boulder 16. Bouldering involves no harness, so climbers must rely on strength and grip to complete the problem.

  • Junior Sophia Diaz-DaCruz climbs boulder 14, almost at the top.

  • Junior Rose Chambers and sophomore Leila Wallen watch a teammate high up on the climbing wall.

  • Junior Sophia Diaz-DaCruz climbs route six on lead.

  • Senior Talia Wallen climbs route 10. Throughout the entire competition, Wallen only fell four times in her top five climbs.

  • Senior Talia Wallen embraces her mother after climbing a difficult route in the competition. On her first attempt on route 10, she was unable to complete it on her first try.

  • Junior Michelle Markevych of varsity stands atop the podium, posing with her plaque during the award ceremony. “It has been one of my long term goals to win podium at State Championships,” Markevych said. “So obtaining my goal after training for a full year was a surreal experience.”

  • Junior Sophia Diaz-DaCruz climbs route seven towards the end of the competition. Diaz-DaCruz finished the season ranked eighth in the state.

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This story won First Place Breaking Sports Coverage from CSMA.