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ABS Nationals results

Open Women:

1. Alex Puccio

2. Francesca Metcalf

3. Sasha Digiulian

4. Alexandra Johnson

5. Angela Payne

6. Tiffany Hensley

7. Kasia Pietras

Open Men:

1. Sean McColl

2. Alex Johnson

3. Kyle Owen

4. Ian Dory

5. Austin Geiman

6. Zach Lerner

7. Matty Hong

8. Nicholas Sherman

Youth results, local competitors:

Female Youth D:

2. Brooke Raboutou

5. Stella Noble

7. Ariana O’Brien

Male Youth D:

2. Joe Goodacre

Female Youth C:

1. Margo Hayes

2. Isabelle Goodacre

10. Eleanor Matheson

Male Youth C:

4. Shawn Raboutou

8. Malcolm Oliver

Female Youth B:

2. Megan Mascarenas

Male Youth B:

6. Remi Arata

Female Youth A:

8. Olivia Ridgely

A few weeks ago, I felt like I couldn’t swing a chalk bag at the gym without hitting some of the best boulderers around.

Alex Puccio was there, then Angie Payne. Then I was whipping off some easy problem when 13-year-old rock star Margo Hayes started climbing nearby. Following my gym sightings, these three crushed at the 2011 American Bouldering Series national championships, which were held in Boulder the past two weekends.

Puccio and Payne both advanced to the ABS finals. Puccio won the title; Payne placed fifth. And yesterday, Margo Hayes (who just turned 13, happy birthday), won her division in the youth nationals.

But it wasn’t just these three climbers — Boulder had a strong contingent at the ABS nationals, both weekends.

I was on my way home from a bouldering trip in Texas for the adult finals, so I headed to yesterday’s youth finals to see the Boulder kids in action at the competition venue.

At the comp I asked Chris Wall, head coach for the Boulder Rock Club’s team, why Boulder had such a strong showing at the youth nationals.

“Robyn is a very effective competition coach,” Wall said, referring to Robyn Erbesfield-Raboutou, the head coach for Boulder’s Team ABC.

Team ABC had 21 kids qualify for the ABS nationals — more than any other team. Eleven made it through to the finals on Sunday; the team won the overall team competition.

The Rock Club had four athletes qualify for nationals; one, Remi Arata, made it to the finals and was climbing the comp routes just before I talked to Wall.

Wall added that many kids here start young, too.

“Kids in Boulder have so much access to climbing — places to climb, parents who climb,” he said.

“Environment is 99 percent of it.”

Though there were a lot of kids from Boulder competing in the finals, the environment felt supportive for all. Wall was cheering for kids from all over and mentioned that he’d watched some of them grow up through competitive climbing. I briefly sat next to a guy from Seattle who was cheering on an ABC kid while waiting for his son to start.

It’s clearly a family affair.

“We’ve become a big family, the parents,” said Tim Goodacre, who had two kids in the finals — Joe, 10, and Isabelle, 12 — one of several pairs of siblings on Team ABC. He added that the kids are great about cheering each other on, too.

I asked Tim how the kids handle the competition stress.

“Pretty well,” he said. “It’s the parents that have a hard time.”

Joe and Isabelle both placed second in their divisions.

Isabelle was standing with her teammate and best friend Margo when the girls learned they came in second and first, respectively.

“We’re competitive, but we’re best friends,” Isabelle said.

“We’re such good friends,” Margo said. “We push each other for sure.”

(Margo’s father, Tom Hayes: “She is one of the most determined people I know. Her work ethic is incredible. We have to hold her back.”)

I asked Jennifer O’Brien what her kids, Liam, 7, and Ariana, 9, were going to do now that the bouldering season was over.

“They start ropes on Tuesday,” she said.

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