Zag gets revenge against UNC by winning rock climbing championship

Hannah Tolson took down a Tar Heel rival to claim a USA Climbing Collegiate National Championship. (5-18-2017)

SPOKANE, Wash. – For some the first step in reaching their potential is coming to peace with their limitations.

Hannah Tolson knows that from experience.

“I was never much of an athlete,” she explained. “I was pretty uncoordinated so I never really found a sport that suited me.”

Thanks to the insistence of a middle school athletic director and a nearby rock climbing gym, she found her passion and discovered just how good an athlete she really is.

“Everybody had to try a sport. I tried it out and fell in love with it,” Tolson said about rock climbing.

That is how Hannah began her ascent. When the Phoenix native clipped in for the first time, she had no expectation that a successful career in the sport would follow.

“Competition climbing was never super on my radar. I thought I was too old to jump into it and to really achieve something great,” she explained.

It took her just two years to dispel that notion. Hannah placed eighth at youth nationals as a 14-year-old.

“That planted the seed in me like, ‘Oh my gosh this could be something that I could really do and be good at,’” she said.

Tolson’s success continued through high school but when it came time to pick a college, competitive climbing was not a factor.

“I love school and I love learning and that was probably more my focus and Gonzaga checked all my boxes I guess apart from having a climbing team,” she said.  “It took me about a week of college to realize that I really wasn’t ready to give up competitive climbing.”

As a freshman, Tolson completed in her final year on the youth circuit. With that stage of her career winding down in the spring of 2016, she came up with a plan to start a climbing team.

In order to compete in USA Climbing’s Collegiate Nationals you have to belong a club team….

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