Nathaniel Coleman, Megan Mascarenas Win 2016 Bouldering NationalsMegan Mascarenas and Nathaniel Coleman have changed the bouldering status quo this weekend by dethroning two nine-time national champions Daniel Woods and Alex Puccio at Bouldering Nationals.
Huge dynos, thin crimps and gnarly slopers protected this years final holds at Bouldering Nationals in Madison, Wisconsin. The competition style has stayed the same, but this year’s champions were new to the podium.
Megan Mascarenas and Nathaniel Coleman have changed the bouldering status quo this weekend by dethroning nine-time national champions Daniel Woods and Alex Puccio.
Mascarenas swept the women’s field, her victory guaranteed after she topped-out the third Finals problem, with one problem remaining. She took the lead after flashing problem two and held it until the end.
Puccio, champion for the last nine years, took second place. Her finish came at the heels of a knee injury that left her with a torn ACL and MCL eight months ago. Despite the setback that ended her World Cup bouldering season, Puccio’s quick recovery and hard training earned her a silver medal.
On the men’s side, there was a tight showdown between Coleman and Jimmy Webb, both of whom flashed two of the four finals problems.  Through the complicated ranking system, which even the comps commentators couldn’t understand, Coleman eked out victory over Webb in the end.
Former men’s champion Daniel Woods just missed the podium, ending up with a fourth place finish.
Both champions this year have been recent Rock and Ice Spotlights.
Mascarenas, featured in issue 227 (July 2015), came out of the woodwork in November 2014 when she went head-to-head with Puccio at the Yank-n-Yark Adult Pro Open in Albequerque, New Mexio. The two climbers were evenly matched and entered a tiebreaker on one of the men’s problems. While Puccio looked strong, Mascarenas stunned the crowd by sending the problem, which only one of the men’s finalists had topped out.
At 17, Mascarenas has thrived on the balancing-board between climbing and academics. She holds gold medals from four Youth Bouldering National competitions, and a 4.7 GPA in school. For now, she says, “I would put my academics above my climbing,” but her calculated approach to problem solving has helped her to achieve climbing success. “I think when you read a route, you’re doing math. You’re always looking ahead to where you want to be.”
Coleman, interviewed for issue 229 (December 2015), also came into the climbing forefront last year with two silver-medal World Cup finishes, at age 18.
Coleman holds three gold medals from Youth American Bouldering Series championships in 2012, 2014, and 2015, in addition to his most recent success in Madision. Coleman has no plans to pursue a professional climbing career, considering it “a risky move,” although he is willing to consider the semi-professional direction. “I want to have sort of my own business,” he tells Rock and Ice, “so I would be able to work on the go,” and “so I could still travel and climb.”
As for how long Coleman plans to keep climbing? “Until I can’t hold on.”
Congratulations to Mascarenas, Coleman, and all of the competitors in this year’s Bouldering Nationals.
1. Megan Mascarenas
2. Alex Puccio
3. Claire Buhrfeind
4. Michaela Kiersch
5. Meagan Martin
6. Sierra Blair-Coyle
1. Nathaniel Coleman
2. Jimmy Webb
3. Carlo Traversi
4. Daniel Woods
5. Tyler Landman
6. Kai Lightner
For more photos of the 2016 USA Bouldering Nationals, check out USA Climbing’s Instagram feed @usaclimbing
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