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Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)

May 16, 2015, Central Saanich, BC (ISN) – On what turned into a beautiful day in the Central Saanich countryside, over 200 athletes did their best to reach the top in the qualifying rounds of the 2015 Climbing Escalade Canada (CEC) Youth and Open Sport Climbing National Championships that are being held at The Boulders Climbing Gym at Stelly’s Secondary School.

Alberta’s Becca Frangos hangs from the roof as she competes at the CEC Nationals. Frangos is among the leaders in both the Open and Junior age groups (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Competition at Nationals is taking place in both the Lead and Speed climbing disciplines and features climbers from British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec, as well as international climbers from the United States, Iran and the Czech Republic. And as befits a true National Championship, the contenders leading the pack after day one are all over the map.

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Ontario’s Rosalee Mazza competes in Youth A (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

In the Men’s and Women’s Open Category, there were really no surprises on the leaderboard. On the Women’s side, the USA’s Delaney Miller, who recently won gold at the Sport Climbing BC Provincials and the US Nationals, topped both of her routes to lead the way. She is followed by US teammate Melina Costanza (also competing in Youth A), who also topped both her routes, and Alberta’s Becca Frangos, competing in the Junior category. British Columbia’s Alison Stewart-Patterson sits in 4th.

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BC’s Genesis Jeske gets that sinking feeling as she falls off the wall during one of her climbs Saturday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

In the Open Male category it cames as no shock that two-time defending IFSC World Overall Champion Sean McColl of Canda led the way as he easily topped both of his routes. He is being challenged however by Nanaimo’s Elan Jonas-McRae and the USA’s Kai Lightner, competing in the Youth A category, who also double topped on the day.

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The USA’s Kai Lightner is one of the top youth climbers in the world and he easily topped both of his routes on Saturday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

In the Junior age group, the aformentioned Becca Frangos leads the way for the girls, as she topped one of her routes Saturday. She is followed closely by Ontario’s Pia Graham and by her sister Sara Frangos. On the boy’s side, Alberta’s Scott Eveleigh sits in first, with Ontario’s Nathan Smith and Alberta’s Matt Hendsbee close behind.

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With some pretty incredible arm strength, Quebec’s Annie Chouinard, holds on tight to her route during a qualifying climb Saturday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

In the Youth A category, the USA’s Costanza, who also competed at the SCBC Provincials, topped both her routes to lead the way for the girls. She is followed by BC’s Julia Massullo and Ontario’s Beth Vince. Lightner with his double top leads the way for the boys, with Ontario’s Lucas Uchida in second and BC’s Kyle Murdoch in third.

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Alberta’s Jenna Deibert looks up for her next move during Saturday’s qualifying (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

In Youth B, BC’s Sophie Buitendyk was the only climber in the age group to reach the top and thus leads the way for the girls, while Ontario’s Zach Richardson heads the list for the boys.

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Nanaimo’s Elan Jonas-McRae topped both his routes to sit tied for the lead in the Open category (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Finally In Youth C, Quebec’s Babette Roy and Ontario’s Indiana Chapman both reached the top to lead the way for the girls, while on the boys side, there is a three-way tie at the top between BC’s Brennan Doyle, Ontario’s Emmet Marlee and BC’s Guy MacNamee, all who topped both their routes Saturday.

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Alberta’s Corbin Smith reaches to clip his rope during one of his climbs Saturday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The above named climbers, as well as the top 16 in each of the age groups will now advance to the lead semi-finals which happen on Sunday morning. From that, a final eight climbers in each age group will advance to Monday’s finals.

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The USA’s Delaney Miller leads the Open Female division after topping both her routes with ease on Saturday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

In the Speed climbing category, Czech climber Libor Hroza, who is competing at the CEC Nationals and in the IFSC World Cup on Sunday, served notice that he will be gunning for a new world record Sunday, as he set the best qualifying time in the Nationals competition of 5.77 seconds. Second fastest on the day was Max Hammer with a time of 8.1 seconds, while BC’s Tristen Gosselin qualified with a time of 8.22 seconds. In the Youth B category, BC’s Ryan O’Neil (11.55 seconds) and Aidan Doyle (12.49 seconds) look like they will battle for gold, while Brennan Doyle (12.5 seconds) leads the way in Youth C.

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Czech climber Libor Hroza had the fastest qualifying time in Speed Saturday with a time of 5.77 seconds (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

On the women’s side, Iran’s Farnaz Esmaeilzadeh, who will also be in the World Cup Sunday, was the top women on the day with a time of 9.15 seconds. Canadian record holder Alison Stewart-Patterson sits second at 12.9 seconds, while BC Youth A Champion Elena Moss, sits third with a time of 13.25 seconds. In Youth B, Sonja Johanson qualified first with a time of 14.04 seconds, while Quebec’s Babette Roy leads in Youth C with a time of 11.7 seconds.

Those climbers and others who qualified will now move on to the speed finals which will take place on Monday.

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Iran’s Farnaz Esmaeilzadeh, who will be in the World Cup Sunday, was the top women in speed on the day with a time of 9.15 seconds (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Climbing continues at The Boulders on Sunday morning at 8:45 am with the semi-finals in the Lead competition. The much anticipated and sure to be exciting IFSC Speed World Cup begins at 2:00 pm with practice and qualifying rounds. Finals in the Speed Word Cup begin at 6:00 pm with awards scheduled for 8:00 pm.

These photos and many more will be available for viewing and purchase on Christian J. Stewart’s web site at http://christianjstewart.zenfolio.com/p156935093

Follow Christian J. Stewart on Twitter @cjs_photography. Follow ISN on Twitter @islandsports1