Sagi Ben Abraham of Whitfield School

Sagi Ben Abraham is ready to reach new heights. The Whitfield freshman qualified for the 2024 U.S. Youth Climbing Nationals in Bouldering, proving his skill and determination against some of the top climbers in the midwest. We checked in with Abraham to learn more about what he enjoys about climbing and how it feels to qualify for nationals.

How did you get started climbing?
It’s a funny story. Before COVID hit, I was on a break from school. My mom didn’t want me at home all day, but we were late to sign up to most camps. We heard about Upper Limits, and I decided to join the climbing team. I took a break from it because of the pandemic, but I’ve been doing it regularly for about three years.

What is your favorite thing about climbing?
There’s not one thing in particular. It calms me down, and it’s a good challenge that also has a mental component. Plus, it’s just really fun.

Why did you decide to climb competitively?
Upper Limits’ climbing teams have levels, and to reach the higher ones, you have to participate in at least one competition. I wanted to move up, so I had to compete. I was really nervous at first but started really liking it after I’d done it a couple times. It’s the adrenaline and pressure of being on the wall. I enjoy competition-style boulders. The routes allow for more flashy stuff, and there’s more focus on how fast you can do the moves and how you catch yourself if necessary. It’s also more fun to watch.

How did it feel to qualify for nationals?
It felt amazing. I was one of the first people to climb, so I wasn’t sure I would qualify after everybody else went. One of my coaches told me I had a good chance. It made me pay more attention. I was nervous, but it was awesome when the last person finished and I saw that I made it. I’ve tried qualifying for about two years. I’ve had a lot of little mess ups in every competition leading up to it. Divisionals was actually two days. After the first day, half of the competitors didn’t qualify for the second. I barely made it, but I was happy to come back and improve the next day. I ended up placing sixth, which means
I beat a lot of people who did better than me on the first day.

What are you looking forward to about nationals?
I’m looking forward to competing with better climbers. Our division is considered one of the strongest in the country, and I want to see how good I do. It’s another level of boulders, and I’m excited to try harder ones.

What is your favorite subject in school?
Everyone laughs, but I like to say lunch. If that doesn’t count, I enjoy art. I used to do band, but I switched and am really liking it. Drawing is something I do in my free time as well. I’m good at math, so I find that a relaxing class.

Photo: Michael Shepherd Jordan